Juncker Slams May’s Brexit Plan in Final State of the Union Address

Juncker SOTU
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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker — one of the European Union’s five presidents and perhaps the best known — gave his final state of the Union Address Wednesday morning, which was laced with barbs for PM Theresa May’s Brexit plan, and European populists like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

Making clear Theresa May’s soft Brexit plan remains unacceptable to the European Union, Juncker may have inadvertently pushed Britain again closer to a full, hard exit.

Juncker mixed his clear warning with friendly words and counter-intuitively stated he supports the Chequers plan while pointing out it would not be compatible with European Union negotiating points.

Telling May that the core idea behind her Brexit plan, remaining a member of the Single Market for goods, was not acceptable he said “…we also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position as a member state.

“If you leave the Union, you are of course no longer part of our Single Market, and certainly not only in the parts of it you choose.” Juncker’s remarks were met with applause in the chamber, the live video feed showed.

In these remarks, he was echoing the comments of Michel Barnier, the EU chief of Brexit negotiations, who has frequently said Britain would not be permitted to “cherrypick” membership elements.

Turning his ire on populists, Mr Juncker had some words for populist politicians presently enjoying a rise in prominence, including Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

Arguing “Europe will never be a fortress, turning its back on the world or those suffering within it. Europe is not an island. It must and will champion multilateralism. The world we live in belongs to all and not a select few,” Juncker highlighted the language and ambitions of populists like Mr Orbán, who consistently argue for the European Union to do more to control its external borders from illegal mass migration.

Mr Juncker also alluded to the coming vote in the European Parliament Wednesday afternoon on whether to punish Hungary for daring to take a different path to Brussels on immigration and other matters.

Making clear he supported the Article 7 vote to punish, he told the chamber: “The Commission will resist all attacks on the rule of law. We continue to be very concerned by the developments in some of our Member States. Article 7 must be applied whenever the rule of law is threatened.”

Following his remarks on opposing a fortress Europe which protected its external frontiers, Juncker also made clear he opposed internal borders as well, saying he wanted to “get back to a Schengen area without internal borders”. Many European nations re-introduced border checks during the unprecedented movement of peoples during the 2015 migrant crisis.

Echoing his own previous comments in 2016 when he called borders the “worst invention ever”, Juncker told the parliament: ” I am and will remain strictly opposed to internal borders.

“Where borders have been reinstated, they must be removed. Failure to do so would amount to an unacceptable step back for the Europe of today and tomorrow.”

Concluding his speech — and his last state of the union address before he is replaced next year — Mr Juncker finished with a final attack on the nation-state, pushing the globalist ideals which have guided his time as president.

Calling for future candidates for the European Parliament to no longer be from a nation, but transnational, Juncker remarked: “To love Europe, is it love its nations. To love your nation is to love Europe. Patriotism is a virtue. Unchecked nationalism is riddled with both poison and deceit. In short, we must remain true to ourselves.”

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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