Tiger of the Stripe Blog

Have EU Politicians and Apparatchiks Been Trying to Influence the UK General Election?

Michel Barnier

Have leading politicians and apparatchiks in the European Union such as Michel Barnier and Jean Claude Junker been trying to influence the result of the UK general election as Theresa May has suggested? I don't know but it was my first impression (before the PM made the suggestion) that they had. Frankly, there are only two possibilities: they either interfered with the intention of affecting the outcome of the election or they just happened to make a series of rather outrageous statements with obvious relevance to the election without realising their mistake. It looks like a co-ordinated attempt to me.

Either way, their behaviour shows them to be fools – no great surprise there. If they had the faintest Idea what they were doing, they would have realised that their comments would boost Theresa May's hand, both in the election and in the subsequent negotiations. Undecided voters will look at this behaviour and decide that we cannot trust the EU at all and they will be more likely to vote for the Conservatives because May has stated that 'no deal is better than a bad deal'. With a large majority May will be able to simply walk away from a bad deal. We have been told for months that the UK doesn't have the negotiation skills to deal with the EU. If these recent comments are representative of the EU's efforts to build a negotiating position, it would seem that it is the EU which lacks negotiating skills.

As someone who thinks that access to the single market would not be worth the price demanded from the EU (not just in financial terms but also the continuing influence of the European Court of Justice), I welcome Barnier and Juncker's remarks because they will probably ensure that we make a clean break. However, that is just my personal perspective. If, like many of my friends, I opposed Brexit and now favour as close a continuing association with the EU as possible, I would be absolutely furious at their behaviour.