First of all, I want to say to Mr. [inaudible 00:00:02] that that is absolutely wrong what he is saying, that there is a sense of humiliation or punishment from the side of the European Union towards Britain. We have far too much respect for a great nation as Britain to do that.
Do you know what the problem is? The problem of humiliation and punishment is because of the mess in the Tory party. There is the humiliation of the British people. Sitting in your group. They are not even there. They are not even there. The only one who is there is Mr. Farage. That’s a surprise to me because I thought that he was marching somewhere in Britain and he has here. A two hundred miles march. How many miles you have done? Two miles you think? Something like that? Yeah. Think so.
You remind me more and more … I don’t know if you know him. Field Marshal Haig in Blackadder. You know Field Marshal Haig in Blackadder? He was so setting in the first World War in his office in London, and you’re sitting here in Strasburg where your own people are marching through the rain and in the cold. That is the way you’re taking your responsibility. Okay.
But I want to recall the words of Winston Churchill who said, if I may quote him, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” I think that quote of Winston Churchill was absolutely applicable today to British politics in the House of Commons and to Prime Minister May because this afternoon their colleagues in the House of Commons, if the speaker allows it, because that’s their system. There will no less than 16 options, 16 options on the table for a Brexit. So there is certainly no loss of enthusiasm as in the quote of Winston Churchill. But more seriously after all the negatives votings of the last weeks in the House of Commons, Mr Dusk against a deal, against a no deal, against the second referendum and so on.
I think there is maybe light at the end of the tunnel now because with the approval of the Letwin Amendment that will be for the first time, after two years of negotiation, maybe a solution based on a cross party cooperation between Labor and the Conservatives. Because I believe that such an existential issue as the Brexit can only be decided on a cross party agreement in a Parliament as we do here in this European Parliament.
I hope that the way forward, giving them time until the 11th of April, we’ll see a majority in the House of Commons for one of these options between Remainers reasonable Brexit deals because it’s between them that they have to find a way forward. In any way, in my personal opinion, I’m not counting on the hard Brexiteers because for the hard Brexiteers, it’s not the interest of the country who is important, but the power struggle inside of the Conservative Party as we have seen the last days.
I repeat in that respect, and I think that I can say that Mr. Chairman, Mr. President, in the name of the whole European Parliament that we are open to have this agreement with Britain, that we are open to change the political declaration in two senses.
First of all in the way that we can make it more binding for both parties that only a declaration. And secondly that we can put inside this political declaration a far more intense relationship between the EU and the UK then the relationship that is foreseen in the political declaration at this moment. And I think this deep relationship will also, to respond to your last intervention, Mr Dusk, will be in any way also the seat for the future. Because I’m pretty sure that not now, I’m not so optimistic as you. I’m an optimist, but not so optimistic as you, I’m personally of the opinion that not now, but within a few generations there will be the return of Britain inside the family of European nations. That’s the place of Britain to be inside the European Union, not outside the European Union, but that will not be succeeded now. That will be succeeded later on and the seat is … Let’s be honest, the march of 1 million people in London, the petition of 6 million people a few days ago.
Finally my last point on the rights of the citizens. I think Mr. [Barnier] and Mr. [Yeunker 00:05:15], I know there have be a unilateral commitment by Britain to respect these citizens as described in the withdrawal agreement. There is from you also to Mr. Barclay a unilateral commitment to do exactly the same for the UK citizens living on the continent. Well, I think it’s time now to look into the possibilities together with Mr. Barclay and you in both houses to see how we can formalize that the fastest as possible so that in any case, what’s happened, even when the most stupid thing happens for an example of a no deal, at least these citizens are not the victims of all these games that we have seen the last two years. Thank you.
[foreign language 00:05:56] Farage.
I would’ve thought as a former Belgium Prime Minister, you would know that it was Field Marshal Haig in 1914 who saved the Belgian town of [Iep00:06:08] from German domination who then went on in 1918 to lead Britain in its greatest ever military feat, defeating imperial Germany on the western front. Far from mocking Haig, as a Belgium, he should be a great hero to you, but never mind. Maybe that sums up your anti-Britishness.
Sticking with Belgium, I thought what happened at the summit last week was a national humiliation, an impasse because we have in Mrs. May, a Prime Minister who hasn’t got the courage, who hasn’t got the vision to carry out her many repeated promises, namely to take us out of the European Union this Friday, March the 29th. It is not happening, and we’re witnessing a slow motion betrayal, perhaps the greatest betrayal of any democratic vote in the history of our nation.
And the reason of course is this withdrawal treaty, and I’ll go back to the first World War. We won the war, but we have the Treaty of Versailles and this treaty is the modern day equivalent.
We have a reparations bill of 39 billion pounds we have to pay for nothing in return. We have the annexation of a part of our national territory in the shape of Northern Ireland. This treaty is a bad piece, it is unacceptable, it is not Brexit and it will not pass.
Now I know that you’re all getting terribly excited about what the House of Commons may do over the course of the next week, and we know what they’ll do. They’ll come back with some form of agreement around a customs union and the continued free movement of people. But even if they do that, the one thing that’s inevitable is that we’re headed for an article 50 extension. And I think you should ask yourselves, do you really want that? Do you really want Brexit to utterly dominate the next couple of years of your business to the exclusion of your many other ambitions? Do you really want the United Kingdom to contest the European elections to send back a very large number of leave MEPs is just at a time when you’re fighting populism as you see it across the continent. Do you really want me back in this place?
Well there we are, and all for what? Because Brexit is going to happen anyway. Mr Tusk, if you think the British people have changed their minds on Brexit, you Sir, are deluded because actually what we now see are opinion poll leads of 15 and in some cases nearly 20% in favor of leaving. If we had another referendum leave would win it by a bigger margin. So why put yourselves through years of agony?
I pay great tribute to Mr [Yeunker] to Mr Barnea, to the European Commission. You have prepared your no deal scenario. It is highly professional. It shows that actually leaving with no deal is not going to cause huge disruption. It even suggest that with no deal, there’s no need for a visible border in Ireland. So I would say to you, to all of you national leaders, reject the British extension beyond the 12th of April. Get Britain out. And then we could all just get on with the rest of our lives.