All hail Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who would be King of Europe. Or already is, depending on your interpretation of the divine rights of monarchs and the gift of absolute power.
On Thursday the European Commission president warned the UK not to place any curbs on EU migrants seeking to cross the Channel to live.
During a debate on Austrian TV, Juncker, who was appointed – not elected – to office at the start of November, said he wanted Britain to remain an active member of the EU but membership was attendant on it keeping an open border with Europe.
He cautioned the Cameron government that people from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are “earning their wages” and should not have any restrictions placed on their unfettered entry to the UK.
“This fundamental right of free movement of workers cannot be questioned existentially because if you question the free movement of workers, Great Britain has to know that one day the free movement of capital will also have to be called into question.
“Then it will be the end for London’s tax rulings, that will no longer be possible in London.”
So consider yourself warned. Living in the UK is a right and not a privilege. So says the unelected head of the EU politburo. Who knew?
Juncker was issuing a direct challenge to David Cameron’s recent admission that he wants to change Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of an in/out referendum while at the same time imposing tougher controls on welfare payments to migrants.
Cameron’s Damascene conversion to the cause of tighter border control is of course a little late. It is also an admission of policy failure.
As recently six months ago he was saying that cutting net migration to below 100,000 before the 2015 general election was “perfectly achievable”.
Trouble is, Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr in November that the government’s EU immigration target is “unlikely” to be met in 2014/2015.
EU migration has “blown us off course” from cutting net migration to below 100,000, Mrs May said, with Britain’s strengthening economy providing an irresistible pull to people from across Europe.
UKIP has been talking about this for years. It pushed the notion of the UK regaining control of immigration onto the national agenda and Cameron has been forced to play catch-up politics or risk being isolated on the margins of public debate.
Lest anyone think the UK is alone in facing the wrath of Juncker’s imperial ambitions, Greece is feeling a little heat as well.
Juncker has warned Greeks against voting the “wrong way” and letting “extreme forces” into power while voicing his preference for “known faces”.
“I think that the Greeks – who have a very difficult life – know very well what a wrong election result would mean for Greece and the eurozone,” Juncker told Austrian television, according to the EUobserver online newspaper.
“I wouldn’t like extreme forces to come to power,” he said ahead of presidential elections in Greece which could lead to a snap national vote.
All of which begs the question: don’t the Greeks alone have the right to choose who they want to lead their country without external interference? There is no right or wrong choice, simply the will of the people.
Not according to Juncker.
He wants to meddle in UK immigration policy while at the same time lecturing Greeks about the perils of ignoring his advice.
I don’t know about you, but this is passing strange for a man who never faced a vote for his position and leads an institution of around 23,000 civil servants overseen by 27 other unelected commissioners.
Such hubris. It makes Juncker seem less like a king and more like the clown prince of Europe.
And a dangerous one at that.