Eu politics

Isis’s collapse has sparked a new rift between Trump and Europe

The days of black-clad militants rampaging through cities, parading captives as war trophies and doing wheelies in U.S.-made Humvees are over. The Islamic State – which once presided over eight million people in a reign of terror across territory as large as the United Kingdom – is now confined to an orchard in the dusty Syrian village of Baghouz. The so-called caliphate is now just 700 square metres. Within days— certainly weeks —all of Isis’ territory will be retaken, the stragglers either killed in a barrage of US airstrikes or sent to Syrian Kurdish-run prison camps to the north. The demise of the caliphate, however, has given way to a

For the Dutch, Brexit is a mistake – and a big opportunity

An advert in the Netherlands features a hairy beast warning about the looming departure of Britain from the EU. Move over Project Fear, this is Project Fur: a campaign aimed at urging businesses to brace themselves for a no-deal Brexit. So what do the Dutch make of the big blue Brexit monster? While the British media has been busy laughing at photos of the muppet-like creature straddling a desk as the Dutch foreign minister watches on, the truth is that this campaign has actually passed many people by. This is a shame: there are good reasons for Dutch folk to worry about the impact of an acrimonious Brexit. Such an outcome would

What Macron’s spat with Italy is really about

Who needs the Comédie-Française when there is Emmanuel Macron in the Élysée? France’s recall last week of its ambassador from Italy for consultation was pure theatre on the part of the president. And it was a decision more for the benefit of his domestic audience than for the coalition government in Rome. In a statement explaining why Christian Masset had been ordered home, the foreign office said that for several months France has been subjected to outrageous statements that have created a ‘serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government’s intentions towards France.’ France blamed the recall on Luigi Di Maio, the Italian deputy prime minster, who flew to

Team Juncker shows it has learned nothing from Selmayr-gate

Martin Selmayr is no stranger to using Twitter to offer his insight and call out those he thinks have got it wrong. But this morning, on the big news in Brussels, the so-called ‘Monster’ is keeping quiet. While Selmayr has today shared messages about ‘clean vehicles’, ‘TeamJuncker’ and (of course) Brexit, he has had nothing to say on the story relating to the controversial circumstances of his appointment as secretary general of the EU Commission. This morning, the European Ombudsman closed its inquiry into Selmayr’s elevation to the top job; its findings are damning. The Ombudsman says that ‘Mr Selmayr’s appointment did not follow EU law, in letter or spirit, and

Britain needs to back down on the backstop – but the EU must help

Theresa May’s attempt to alter her Brexit deal is going down badly in Brussels. The anger is partly understandable: after all, this is the agreement May’s own government negotiated. Donald Tusk’s barbed comment today – that there is a “special place in hell” for those who promoted Brexit without a plan – can be explained by this frustration. But the EU also needs to face up to the political reality: May’s deal suffered a crushing Parliamentary defeat by 230 votes. It’s all very well having an agreement that works in Brussels theory, but it still has to get through the Commons. If Brussels really wants a deal, it too needs to move; MPs may

Nick Cohen

What would George Orwell make of the Brexit right?

I don’t believe in turning George Orwell’s writing into Holy Scripture – he would have hated the reverence as much as anything else. But if the Brexit right is going to crow and quote his dislike of the communist-influenced left intelligentsia of the 1930s and 1940s it should read the rest of his work first.  Orwell believed in a united socialist Europe. ‘Democratic Socialism must be made to work throughout some large area,’ he wrote just after the Second World War. ‘But the only area in which it could conceivably be made to work, in any near future, is Western Europe’. If you can forget his belief in a post-war

Gavin Mortimer

France’s dilemma: what to do with jihadists who say sorry | 6 February 2019

Patrick Jardin lost his daughter when Islamist terrorists attacked the Bataclan in November 2015. Nathalie was one of 130 people killed that evening in Paris and her father still pays her mobile phone charges so that he can hear her voice on her answer message. For Jardin, time has healed nothing. He spearheaded a successful campaign to prevent the controversial rapper Medine from appearing at the Bataclan last year. And in the interviews he gives, such as this one to Liberation, he directs his anger in many directions. Some of it against himself, for failing to “protect” his daughter, some against the killers, but most is channelled into a visceral loathing for

Fraser Nelson

Tusk, Selmayr and the EU’s Twitter diplomacy

This morning, Donald Tusk had an unusually provocative line in his speech. “I have been wondering what the special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely,” he said. Any politician knows that the image of Brexiteers going to hell cannot be dropped into a speech without huge controversy. Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach who had been standing next to him, spotted it instantly and was caught on mic joking to Tusk about the outrage it was intended to cause in the UK. Tusk nodded and laughed. Then for good measure, he tweeted out the incendiary

Can Macron divide and conquer the gilets jaunes?

Emmanuel Macron, the young, dashing president of the Fifth French Republic, is the epitome of what it means to be a card-carrying member of the Paris political elite. The 41 year-old president was ushered through Sciences Po, France’s premier centre of political education and a near requirement for youngsters who aspire to become politicians and policymakers. Upon graduating, he took an inspector job at the finance ministry before jumping into the investment world. Macron’s decision to hitch his stardom to Socialist Party boss Francois Hollande paid off when he was tapped to be the Deputy Secretary-General and then the Minister of Finance. Macron’s world is one of three-piece suits, cocktail

The plan that could give rebel Labour MPs the space to break away

Reports that Theresa May’s team are considering a June election haven’t exactly been met with universal acclaim. Tory MPs in marginal seats are horrified by the prospect, demanding assurances from the party’s chairman Brandon Lewis that this isn’t the case. But it’s not only Tories concerned about losing their seats who should be worried. A snap election would also be bad news for the band of Labour MPs considering breaking away to form a new party. The arguments against forming a new party due to the crushing forces of our first past the post electoral system are familiar and have acted as a brake on the formation of significant new

Watch: Andrew Marr calls out EU leaders over TV no-shows

When was the last time an EU leader gave an interview to British TV to talk about Brexit? If you’re scratching your head to remember, you’re not the only one. Andrew Marr raised just this point on his programme this morning, calling out the likes of Donald Tusk, Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker for their persistent failure to appear on his programme. Here’s what Marr had to say: I just want to say one thing about our line-up of interviews. We are at a moment where negotiations with Brussels are absolutely critical and it has been a long moment. And week after week I get the chance to cross question

Macron’s fight with Europe’s populists is backfiring

In France, discontent has been brewing for years. Emmanuel Macron managed to set it alight by embarking on a series of reforms that sparked the gilet jaunes movement. In Europe it has been brewing too, and now Macron seems to be repeating the trick. Here the antipathy is from populist governments opposed to his ideas, not only on a future Europe but also his lesson-giving in how those countries should govern themselves. International politics are following a similar pattern to national politics. Macron sweeps onto the international stage with new ideas for reforming Europe, he accompanies that with acerbic throw-away quips on the competence and morality of particular leaders, they

Eight problems with a no deal Brexit

I’ve got sympathy with those tempted to tell the Brussels elite to stuff their Brexit deal. Quite a few of my relatives and friends feel a two-fingered salute is the appropriate response to demands for £39 billion and what they see as the naked instrumentalisation of the Irish border. They listen to Emmanuel Macron and European leaders drip disdain on the British electorate for exercising a right to leave the Union afforded to all member states in EU law, watch Jean-Claude Juncker’s weird hair-fluffing antics, and read about top German MEP Elmar Brok’s dodgy scheme to profit from European Parliament tours. They think Theresa May has made a pig’s ear of

Jonathan Miller

Why doesn’t Emmanuel Macron like Britain?

Why is Emmanuel Macron raging against Britain? The French president has returned to the subject of the British once again in the course of his Great National Debate. To be honest, thus far this has been something of a great Macron soliloquy, as he finds it difficult to stop talking. It was inevitable that during one of his lengthy televised discourses (there have now been three) he would turn once again to his new favourite subject, and so he did. As he strutted across the stage in Drôme, holding forth to an audience of local worthies that looked more bemused than enthusiastic, Macron declared that the British were mad, their referendum

How Germany helped shape the conditions for Brexit

German political leaders, industrialists, artists and sportspeople wrote to the Times last week urging Brits to reconsider and stay in the EU. The letter was a mixture of gratitude that Britain had been willing to let Germany rejoin the ranks of civilised nations after the horrors of war, and a rather patronising list of the oh-so-adorable British quirks and foibles: our black humour, our curious habit of drinking tea with milk, drinking ale, driving on the left and pantomimes. But what really struck me was that, for all the warm words, there was no recognition that modern German politics might have played a role in Brexit, let alone a hint of contrition. In

Gavin Mortimer

Are the Yellow Vests just a bunch of middle class whiners?

On two Sundays this month there have been Yellow Vest demonstrations in France organised by women. As one of the leaders explained to the media, they’re not ‘feminist’ demonstrations but ‘feminine’, a chance for women to have their voices heard in a movement that, since its formation, has been predominantly patriarchal. These women don’t want their movement to be hijacked by bourgeois Parisian feminists, those who care more about making French a gender-neutral language than reducing childcare costs for single mums struggling to make ends meet. Changing grammatical rules so that the masculine form of a noun no longer takes precedence over the female is probably not the issue that

The weakness behind Macron and Merkel’s love-in

Emmanuel Macron spoke for three hours, almost without pause, at the first of his grand débats national in Normandy last week, in an attempt to respond to recent protests, while 8,000 policemen kept the gilets jaunes at bay. Yesterday, in the splendour of the Palace of Versailles, Macron hosted scores of international business leaders, many on their way to Davos, to reassure them that France was open for business. They were polite but it is fair to say sceptical, having seen on television the Porsches of bankers burning on the streets of Paris. Today the peripatetic president is with Angela Merkel in the German city of Aachen, known still to

Matteo Salvini is doing Brussels a favour with his harsh migration policy

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, is one of the most controversial politicians in Europe. The 45-year old chief of the League party exudes a down-to-earth demeanour with his common-man social media posts, in which he shares pictures of himself eating Barilla pasta and Nutella. To his many opponents, Salvini is a thick-headed, semi-fascist ideologue who wants to turn back the clock and return Europe to a dangerous form of nationalism. But to his supporters, in and out of Italy, he is a straight-talking, no-nonsense defender of his country’s sovereignty against the northern elites in Berlin and Brussels. However Salvini is seen, one thing is beyond dispute: migration levels


Can Martin Selmayr’s denials be trusted?

Martin Selmayr, the so-called ‘monster’ of Brussels, has reacted angrily to claims that he set out to punish Britain over Brexit. Selmayr, controversially elevated last year to become secretary general of the European Commission, was said to have told a meeting in Brussels in November that ‘the power is with us’ in Brexit trade talks. The claim was repeated in a detailed article by Tory MP Greg Hands, who sets out allegations that Selmayr and Sabine Weyand, another top EU official, crafted the Brexit deal in order to inflict maximum pain on Britain. Needless to say, Selmayr isn’t happy. This morning, he shared a link to Hands’ Conservative Home piece