Magazine article The Spectator

Douglas Murray: Euroscepticism Is Growing All over Europe

Magazine article The Spectator

Douglas Murray: Euroscepticism Is Growing All over Europe

Article excerpt

Europhiles have warned us for years of the dangers of Britain leaving the EU. But all the while a different spectre has crept up on their other flank: which is that even if the UK votes to stay in the EU in 2017, we might be one of the only countries left. It's a radical thought, but if they'd like to consider it, the Europhiles should look at what is happening across the continent.

Pro-EU countries are proving harder and harder to find. The eastern European countries may still be financial net receivers, but they are now having to weigh up their honey pot against the demands that come with it. A project which was meant to bring free movement of labour for themselves is now forcing them to take in thousands of migrants they do not want from across Africa and the Middle East. Anti-EU feeling is growing everywhere, and even the Polish government's erstwhile plan to 'progress' into the eurozone now looks like it will be opposed by the majority of Poles. The 'irreversible' turns out to be eminently reversible.

In western Europe, the Euroscepticism that used to be portrayed as a mere embarrassing blight among Tory backbenchers is now breaking out everywhere. Ten years ago Dutch voters rejected the EU constitution, but were soon afterwards signed up for the almost identical Lisbon Treaty. Ten years on, campaigners in Holland have succeeded in collecting far more than the 300,000 signatures they needed to force a Dutch vote on further EU enlargement. One of the authors of that initiative, the Dutch writer and philosopher Thierry Baudet, this week announced that he wants to turn the vote into a debate on Dutch EU membership as a whole.

Public opinion in Holland appears to be gathering behind him. A new poll shows 83 per cent of Dutch voters want 'more influence' over future transfers of power to the EU and 61 per cent of the population want a referendum on any further enlargement of the EU. At the same time Baudet and the anti-EU Forum for Democracy which he runs intend to push for a full public inquiry into the circumstances under which Holland joined the euro. In Holland such inquiries tend to be reserved for national disasters. The symbolism is not lost and the inevitable troubles of the Dutch political class, as their manipulations are brought to light, can push public feeling in only one direction.

Everywhere a process of 'ever-looser union' may become the only way to hold the EU together. On 3 December it will be Denmark's turn to go to the polls for a referendum on whether to convert one of the country's current EU opt-outs into an opt-in. But anti-EU sentiment in Denmark has grown (as it has everywhere else) among citizens watching the EU's handling of the Greek crisis and now beginning to experience the catastrophically mishandled migration crisis. …

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