It seems Michel Barnier has undergone something of a transformation in recent months. Gone is the starry-eyed Eurocrat who decried the ‘cherry picking’ of Perfidious Albion and insisted that ‘the single market and its four freedoms are indivisible’. In his place stands the defender of national sovereignty, a patriotic champion of French self-interest against Big Brussels.
This new-found Euroscepticism is of course due to Barnier’s decision to run for the French presidency. The former Brexit negotiator clearly thinks he can succeed where David Cameron failed, judging by his pronouncements today on the need for France to renegotiate its relationship with the EU. Barnier told members of his Republican party today that:
We must regain our legal sovereignty in order to no longer be subject to the judgments of the CJEU or the ECHR. We will propose a referendum in September on the question of immigration.
A manifesto which, err, curiously resembles Cameron’s own demands that the EU rejected in early 2016. ‘Legal sovereignty’ if enacted would of course mean ignoring the EU’s court rulings and the Council of Europe – a proposal that prompted paroxysms of outrage when Brandon Lewis suggested similar.
First a migration ban and now a national referendum? It’s a good thing the reigning ‘European of the Year‘ isn’t a conservative candidate on this side of the Channel – he’d probably have been deselected by CCHQ already.
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