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Monday, June 17, 2024

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Starmer left behind by his beloved EU


Just as the tectonic plates of British politics appear to be shifting to the Left, in Europe they are positively racing in the opposite direction.

Across the EU, hard-Right movements are on the rise, with the Left increasingly pushed to the margins.

The weekend’s European elections saw the populist Right make significant gains in France, Germany, Italy and Austria. 

In what was described by the Financial Times as a ‘political massacre’, Marine Le Pen‘s National Rally won more than double the votes secured by president Emmanuel Macron‘s Renaissance party.

If the French Right replicates its success in the country’s forthcoming domestic ballot, even partially, the European landscape will be radically transformed.

Sir Keir Starmer is already cosying up to Brussels again, with Tory ministers saying he would rejoin the bloc 'in all but name'

Sir Keir Starmer is already cosying up to Brussels again, with Tory ministers saying he would rejoin the bloc ‘in all but name’

Shift to the right? If Marine Le Pen's National Rally replicates its success in France's forthcoming domestic ballot, the European landscape will be radically transformed

Shift to the right? If Marine Le Pen’s National Rally replicates its success in France’s forthcoming domestic ballot, the European landscape will be radically transformed

What could this mean for Sir Keir Starmer should he win on July 4? 

Although he publicly insists there is no case for rejoining the EU, he was an obsessive Remainer who endlessly campaigned to overturn the referendum result.

He is already cosying up to Brussels again, with Tory ministers saying he would rejoin the bloc ‘in all but name’.

If he foolishly attempts to undo our Brexit freedoms, Sir Keir will find himself bargaining with a Europe which is significantly out of sync with his self-proclaimed socialism.

The result? An even worse deal for Britain. Such a seismic shift in Europe will also scupper Labour’s main proposals for tackling the small-boats crisis.

Sir Keir has vowed to scrap the Tories’ Rwanda asylum scheme and seek new deals with France and other countries on returns agreements. 

A tall order if the French system shifts to the Right.

And it is not only the Right Sir Keir is at odds with, but also the centrists.

The dominant European People’s Party – which counts EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen among its ranks – pledges a ‘safe third country’ asylum scheme with illegal migrants being sent abroad under a ‘comprehensive contractual agreement’ with the host nation.

The dominant European People's Party ¿ which counts EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) among its ranks ¿ pledges a 'safe third country' asylum scheme

The dominant European People’s Party – which counts EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) among its ranks – pledges a ‘safe third country’ asylum scheme 

At odds: Sir Keir has vowed to scrap the Tories' Rwanda asylum scheme and seek new deals with France and other countries on returns agreements

At odds: Sir Keir has vowed to scrap the Tories’ Rwanda asylum scheme and seek new deals with France and other countries on returns agreements

In short, it advocates ‘Rwanda Mark II’ – more evidence of how far removed a Labour government would be from mainstream opinion on the Continent.

What a rich irony that a man who’s spent the past eight years dreaming of a reunion with his beloved EU should find the object of his ardour so utterly transformed.

The wrong target

The right to peaceful demonstration is protected in British common law. The right to commit wanton vandalism under the guise of political protest is not.

This distinction seems to have been lost on the ragtag alliance of pro-Palestinian and climate activists who trashed 20 branches of Barclays bank yesterday.

If they really want to make a statement about violence in the Middle East or the use of fossil fuels, they should turn their attentions to Iran – an oppressive theocracy that supplies arms to paramilitaries and produces 3million barrels of crude oil daily.

While Israel is a democracy, Iran is effectively a fascist state – with a singularly ruthless way of dealing with public protest, peaceful or otherwise.

Wanton vandalism: Pro-Palestinian and climate activists who trashed 20 branches of Barclays bank under the guise of political protest

Wanton vandalism: Pro-Palestinian and climate activists who trashed 20 branches of Barclays bank under the guise of political protest

If Labour believes an extra 1,000 Home Office civil servants will improve deportations, it is deluded. 

European human rights laws are the main sticking point in this arena. 

Additional civil servants – who whine about the tasks sometimes asked of them by a tough home secretary – may actually make the situation worse.

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