For those who are writing off the current EU vaccines debacle as a one-off, think again.
What happened with the short-lived invocation of Article 16 was simply a more blunderingly spectacular demonstration of the bullying, self-serving, tosh that spawned a solid, broad generation of Brexiters out of 2016’s floating-voter middle ground. Five years on, and this will serve only to further entrench them.
Ireland – as many had already tumbled – was only ever a pawn in a power-grabbing money-go-round, even if the public posturing suggested otherwise. Now, nobody can cast aspersions on that conclusion.
Von der Leyen, the ultimate journeyman politician, was shoehorned into the Commission because the other candidates’ psycho-federalist agendas were a tad too much for even committed Europhiles. A puppet, who seems to have been left without a wriggling hand up her jacksie.
In the UK, Johnson had crammed subservient room meat into the Cabinet, only to see COVID light a flare under an obvious paucity of talent. At the Commission, they thought it would be best to have a dolt at the wheel and then drive from the backseat. Lamentably, they subsequently allowed the driver to pick the route, and what it more, she turned out to be an unqualified one with a string of failed tests behind her.
Of course, they won’t bomb her out for precisely the same reason that Republicans had propped up a desperate loon in the White House. That kind of action damages not only the incumbent but with it the office.
So, back to distraction and rhetoric it was. Vaccine nationalism, the latest shitty stick for prodding the non-compliant, was coined by EU member states only once they had realised that the Commission had been outfoxed by the worst UK Government in living memory. Before that point, they had been merrily celebrating a beguiling status at the pinnacle of the vaccine hierarchy. That flavour of triumphalism enjoyed on the Continent has now been sniffily reframed as nationalism on the part of others after it had emerged that the Tory cabal had beaten them to the summit and to the plaudits.
The truth is that while slating inward-looking national self-interest, the EU has long since been moving towards the creation of a superstate nationalism.
And that is where the madness grows arms and legs. It is always perplexing how the masses swallow the ‘my country, right or wrong’ dross of nationalist rhetoric, but they do. How then the similar Euro-mantras gain traction, which are founded on an imagined European persona is even more baffling.
It is an even further step into fantasy, but it works. Check out the blue-and-gold, Euro-flag hysteria that prevails.
And that is where we are. Superstate nationalism, propelled by superstate populism, versus all the smaller nationalisms and populisms. You can look to the bandwagon-jumping of all the heads of state who only this week twisted a contractual dispute into a ‘UK hijacking plot’. The French President, who wishes to be the de facto European Uber-Prez, and some Croatian bloke, who just wants to make sure we know that Croatia is in the EU (I had myself forgotten).
None of this provides a compelling case for the rejection of the European ideal in itself. But today, even the most hitherto unhinged Remainers will have seen the mask slip on the motivations and the values of those who lead the supranational monolith. This week the Commission was shown to have dropped the boule, and rather than fessing up, they panicked and dug themselves a deeper hole.
The tragedy for the EU is that this tissue of embarrassment has unrolled when the stakes are at the highest since its inception.
And so far, they have prioritised saving face over saving lives.