European Movement UK

Britain's future is with Europe! Join the debate and put your opinion forward!

by Kevin Hannon, Chairman of the European Movement’s Midlands Branch//

“Where the enemies breed destructions, sow seeds of startling lights.” Ben Okri

The results of the EP elections will have caused dismay in many European capitals and no doubt in Washington. In Moscow they will have an opposite effect. President Putin must be delighted to see anti-EU parties make big gains in two important EU countries with the successes of UKIP in the UK and Front National (FN) in France. Indeed, Putin has had a good week. A very big gas trade deal was signed with China, after 10 years of hard negotiations; the UK government announced that it will reduce by a third its airborne rapid response troops; and then the icing on the cake with the EU elections producing big gains for anti-EU parties.

In France Madame Le Pen, leader of the Front National, has policies that must be Putin’s political dream. She is against the EU and globalisation. She would pull France out of the Euro and advocates the break of the Eurozone in favour of a policy of competitive currency devaluations, so that we can try a re-run of the 1930s (imagine the economic chaos after the destruction of about 1/3 of the world’s foreign currency reserves). She would have France leave NATO and be entirely independent of the US. Instead she advocates having “a privileged partnership with Russia”; a linkage necessitated by “obvious civilisation and geo-strategic factors” as well as by France’s energy needs. And like Nigel Farage, she admits to admiring President Putin for his uncompromising nationalism and political skills. Which is perhaps why she and Mr Farage have visited Moscow so many times and been so well treated there.

The Le Pen future for Europe is that the EU gets broken up, the Euro-zone gets broken up, NATO gets broken up, France retreats into nationalistic isolation, apart from a new special relationship with Russia. Madame Le Pen’s policies are so destructive towards the EU and the whole post WWII political system in Europe and all that France has done in it as to make one wonder if she is a Russian secret agent. She isn’t, but she might just as well be. She is without doubt the most potentially dangerous of Putin’s political helpers in the West because of her policies and because France is an essential and integral EU member state.

Putin’s most successful, to date, helpmate in the EU is Nigel Farage MEP, leader of a party that wants the UK to leave the EU. The United Kingdom Isolation Party, to give it an accurate name, is a sure fire winner for Putin. If it succeeds and the UK votes to leave the EU that will seriously weaken and distract the EU for years as it deals with the many problems of disentangling such a large country from the EU. Moreover, the UK economy would be in confusion and stagnation for years after a vote to leave the EU because of all the legal and regulatory uncertainties, and because of a lack of investment domestic and foreign. After that the UK will be compromised as a major political, economic and therefore military power in Europe. Thus eliminating one of the main and most consistent opponents of Russian expansionism since the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15. “Thank you very much Mr Farage” President Putin will be able to say, “You have done for us what tsars and dictatorships have failed to do in two centuries.”

Even if Mr Farage is unsuccessful in his ultimate aim of getting the UK out of the EU, his continuing influence serves to make the UK a reluctant and obstructive EU member state. He frightens the other main parties into being more anti-EU than they would be otherwise. And of course his anti-EU policies are supported and amplified by the endless stream of anti-EU propaganda poured out by much of the UK press, without which his party would scarcely exist.

A dismembered or weakened EU, like UKIP and the Front National envisaged, would serve President Putin’s policies even more than a weakened or dismembered Ukraine. Because the globalisation of political effects is such that a vote for Nigel Farage and Marie Le Pen at one end of Europe is in effect a vote for President Putin at the other end of Europe.

UKIP and FN seem to be part of an axis of xenophobia and nationalism linking anti-EU parties across Europe, which in fact have many disparate origins and conflicting aims. Both UKIP and FN make use of resentment against modernity to claim that they can wind back the clock of history into an imaginary era of the totally sovereign, entirely independent nation-states. But whereas the Front National is more protectionist, UKIP always talks about free trade with the rest of the world. But the politics of blame is always with us somewhere, because it is much easier for politicians to provide distractions than to deal with the realities of modernising the economy and politics of their country; hence the tactics of Farage, Le Pen and Putin.

It is an ironic measure of the success of the EU that so many disparate parties and politicians from London to Moscow blame it for what it does or does not do – rather as if it is the weather.


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