Does Liz Truss see herself angling for a top job in the EU or what is seen as a new group which will take over its bigger role with Macron leading it?
When politicians believe that they’re against the wall and their careers are in tatters they do anomalous things. Liz Truss, left battle scarred by a serious of abysmal media appearances on local radio, may well be thinking about how long she has, given that MPs in her own party are already panicking and giving her the no confidence vote.
Across the channel, Emmanuel Macron is in a similar quandary. After numerous attempts to try and rejuvenate himself on the world stage – which all fell flat – he has one last final plan to save himself, France and the EU. Macron, in a nutshell, sees his future with the EU, either as European Commission boss in 2029 or ideally sooner running a new kind of EU which fast tracks decisions on immigration, energy or security. Does Truss, formerly a remainer, also believe her future lies in a top job in the EU if the UK were ever to rejoin? Is this her thinking by agreeing to attend Macron’s ‘European political community’ conference in the coming days?
The problem with this plan, to create an informal EU group (plus one or two neighbours) which would take on the bigger policy decisions that the EU can’t manage itself, is that it is neither good nor original. The ‘two speed’ Europe idea has actually been around for decades, largely pushed by French leaders who believe that their vision of an EU – with France leading it – would easily come about if the present unanimity rules on voting on bigger decisions was bypassed. You can see the logic of this, viewed within the prism of the war with Ukraine. Macron erroneously believes that a great many EU member states would move forward with a plan to develop an EU army, which, once created could be a stoic and visible deterrent for Putin. This is the fatal flaw in the thinking as the plan is both desperate and delusional – desperate in that it would make Macron the de facto leader of the EU and lift his status out of the doldrums of being a French president with little power in his own country; and delusional in that Putin would only be more enraged if an EU army were to be present in, or on the borders, or Ukraine.
But there’s a lot more to the plan which British people are not being told.
Ironically, it is Brexit Britain which plays a central role in the credibility of it ever getting off the ground. With the UK in it, Macron can insist to Eastern European Atlanticist countries who are sceptical about a French power grab and an EU army, that the new group is not actually EU 2.0. Same goes for Turkey, Norway and Switzerland. The bluff is that he is taking over the EU as his new fast track plan will cast a huge shadow over the Brussels institutions which will be left debating the length of wind screen wipers, as Macron’s ‘community’ will take all of the media coverage and divide EU countries into two groups: those who are in that and those who are out. But even for those who sign up to it, they will create tensions and division within the institutions and certainly amongst the member states who are left out in the cold. Of course, it’s easy to say ‘you don’t have to join our EU army’ but what about those EU countries who don’t join it? Will they have to accept huge policy decisions on immigration and energy which the ‘other side’ have decided? This will be the end of the EU as we know it, as it will be reduced to a talk shop with almost no clout.
In its place will be a super EU which will have the juicy subjects which media will devour in preference to the minutia of daily EU paper shuffling and dull meetings. But it will be a super EU run by France. Does Britain really want to sign up to being a junior player to a bold new EU which has France and Macron as its leaders? And who is to say that Macron has the ability to even run an EU army effectively to serve Britain’s interests? Macron’s track record of foreign policy failures cannot be overlooked.
In Mali, in 2021, Boris Johnson sent British soldiers there to fight Islamic terrorists as part of a UN mission. In fact, all 27 member states did the same to support Macron who, in reality, was struggling to keep Mali under the wing of the Elysee as a French satellite. The entire program was one huge lie though. In reality, the Mission led by the French was not about fighting terrorism but about keeping French nationals safe and French multinationals making money while Macron played the role of an absent colonial who couldn’t stand the heat and flies.
This year the Mali junta’s patience snapped under the patronage of Macron and it kicked out French troops, replacing them with Russian mercenaries to ensure it stays in power. The humiliation to Macron was colossal as even with all that back up, he is unable to keep a former French colony from falling to the Russians. American media was quick to point out the implications of his failure.
For decades EU federalists have been mulling an EU army but haven’t managed to resolve problems such as who would fund it, who would run it and, ultimately, who would take the big decisions on deploying it. They knew it would never get off the ground, least of all, as no one could ever agree on anything. And the logic behind the idea – to make the EU a bigger player and more relevant – was also flawed.
Of all the bad decisions the EU has ever made in its short history, Macron’s plan will be the mother of all calamities if he is to run it. Practically everything Macron touches in his feral obsession of making France – and himself – great again, turns to dusts and leaves others picking up the bill. Pity the foreign office or MOD official who has to explain to the parents of a dead British soldier what exactly squaddies are doing in Mali supporting the French under yet another bumbling plan of Boris to enhance the so-called entente cordiale.
Meanwhile, another 1000 Albanians arrive from France.
Macron will no doubt use the bribe of fixing the Albanian cross channel immigrants under the auspices of ‘immigration’ which is why this has been included. In reality, the EU has never had the means to successfully control immigration from North African or the Middle East and member states just scrapped at will the enshrined Schengen Agreement during Covid anyway, making a mockery of the EU and all its stands for. Why would we trust Macron now to fix immigration? How many millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money will it take to get the French to stop the boats? Make no mistake, the real deal here is creating an EU army, with the other two subjects sitting awkwardly as face meat in the room.
Ukraine has to be included in the plan, as this is a way of justifying an EU army, without it being called an EU army. Will Putin fall for that when new soldiers are sent to Ukraine from a multinational group which includes the British and Turks? Unlikely.
Kiev is also part of it for other reasons though which is that the EU – and member states – are really panicking about the political fallout a longer war will create, days away from winter setting in. The thinking is that if Ukraine is in this club, then it will be easier to justify to voters why they have to go to food banks, chose ‘eat or heat’ and accept grotesque sacrifices. Ukraine is one of us.
For decades the French dreamt of what Macron is trying to pull off. But for Britain, it could be a cauchemar.
De Gaulle tried it in the 60s as a way of making a stand against NATO and failed. If Britain is to join such a group, which will become a de facto “EU pillar” at best within NATO, or at worse, an adversary to Washington’s thinking, it will be the end of the special relationship with the US which would plunge us further into economic dismay. And many remainers within the conservative party will point out to Truss that it’s only a cigarette paper away from re-joining the EU. Will that be her next barmy idea to win voters at the next general election?