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15 July, 2016  ▪  Leonіdas Donskіs

The scapegoat for all seasons

My story is inseparable from my experience as a member of the European Parliament. During my term (2009-2014), I was in a position to witness the debates and political skirmishes in the House that allowed me to anticipate easily what happened recently in the United Kingdom

Memory is a good thing – as long as you can remember things, you can connect them, repeatedly, throwing more light to what is happening now. To be able to understand things that may come as a shock to your colleagues, and to let them understand where those things stand, it suffices to tell a story.

My story is inseparable from my experience as a member of the European Parliament. During my term (2009-2014), I was in a position to witness the debates and political skirmishes in the House that allowed me to anticipate easily what happened recently in the United Kingdom.

The idea of the Brexit emerged as early as 2009. From the beginning of my term in the European Parliament, it was obvious that what Nigel Farage, the then leader of UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) was pursuing in Brussels and Strasbourg was much of a domestic affair.

I would argue that the success of Farage and UKIP in the UK has created the new pattern of political reasoning and conduct, which made Farage and his likes successful in the EP, and which resulted in the Brexit with all kinds of suicidal mistakes made by David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and Tories.

A talented political buffoon able to give an excellent two-minute political performance in the House, Mr. Farage far outsmarted his rather sluggish and bureaucratically minded colleagues who, as we all would expect from responsible and sound policy makers, would think twice before saying something in the public.

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Faceless and colourless Eurocrats from the European Commission and the EU Council, just likesome decent, yetconsiderably less artistic, impressive and rhetorically able politicians from other countries with all their unavoidable limitations in English as a foreign language, could never compare to Farage’s charms. I thought that I was watching a political circus or a magnificent stand-up performance from a British equivalent of Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Just like the infamous Russian political clown and skilled manipulator makes it impossible to identify his political views, Farage’s political ideology is quite a riddle.

Ranging from libertarianism to nationalism, Farage’s tirades were offering some sympathy to the supposed and imagined victims of the vicious tyranny of the EU – especially Greece. At that same time, he praised Flanders and Wallonia up to the skies, yet with zero relevance vis-à-vis his own employment at an EU institution in Brussels, Belgium, which made it feasible for him to be a well-paid policy maker in the institution that he wished to destroy along with the EU itself.  

Yet to put Farage lightly into the category of Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders or Krisztina Morvai (a toxic antisemite and far right politician from Hungary) is the last thing I would do. Far from being a fanatical bigot or xenophobe, he contrived coming up with a new pattern of politics, which was to become a disaster for the UK. Let me skip the entire story of Farage and Le Pen as the projects of the Kremlin in terms of their financial support, which is a public secret.

More importantly, Farage set up the new pattern of how to use the EU for domestic affairs and how to win the local or national elections with no political program at hand. The rise of the UKIP made David Cameron anxious about the possibility of losing some voters in those same waters where both parties were fishing. The inspiring example of Farage pushed Cameron to use the EU as the bag for beating, which was a widespread tendency among far right parties all over Europe. All you need is the EU as the new Emmanuel Goldstein for the Party’s Two Minutes Hate.

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This is how Cameron understood quite well that the EU is a scapegoat for all seasons. He never ever wanted the UK to leave the EU. The Tories simply wanted to blackmail the EU passing in the eyes of the electorate for the party for which the British Pound and the British Sovereignty matter the most, and which never ever will allow France and Germany to run the UK.

What happened was something straight of the Aesopian fable as retold by Horace: “The mountains will be in labour, and a ridiculous mouse will be brought forth.” We thought that we would seethe triumph of British policy makers who fought bravely for the sovereignty of the nation. Yet what we saw was just a ridiculous mouse – the confused and scared Boris Johnson and David Cameron who understood the price of the adventure immediately when their country began losing billions pounds, and when young people felt like hostages of a silly domestic power game. Scotland sent the message that its parliament would block the Brexit, should the British Parliament ratify and adopt it. This sounded like the beginning of the collapse of the UK.

Instead of a drama of liberty, it appears to have been merely an irresponsible political gameand the worst example of how a bunch of dodgy and failing politicians can ruin the project initiated by their predecessors and parents.Sic transit gloria mundi.

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