Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative in the Brexit talks, was cheered at the Liberal Democrats party conference as he hailed the end of the age of nation-states, and a new “world order” of “empires”.
“The world order of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation-states, on countries — it’s a world order that is based on empires”, claimed the former prime minister of Belgium — which for its own part has a singularly unpleasant history as an imperial power.
“China is not a nation, it’s a civilisation — Han,” Verhofstadt continued.
“India — you know it better than I do — is not a nation. There are 2,000 nations in India; there are 20 different languages that are used there; there are four big religions…. The U.S. is also an empire, more than a nation — maybe tomorrow they will speak there more Spanish than English, I don’t know what will happen — and then finally, the Russian Federation,” he lectured.
“The world of tomorrow is a world of empires, in which we Europeans, and you British, can only defend your interests, your way of life, by doing it together, in a European framework, and in European union,” he shouted in conclusion.
Why are all these Remainers so obsessed with empire? pic.twitter.com/IZ5Qc2ZL50
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) September 14, 2019
Verhofstadt’s vision of the European Union as an empire is consistent with his approach to the Brexit negotiations with the British government during Theresa May’s premiership, with his team boasting of her Brexit-in-name-only withdrawal agreement: “We finally turned [Britain] into colony, and that was our plan from the first moment.”
His Liberal Democrat audience seemed wholly unperturbed by his open declaration of imperial ambitions, however — and indeed the speech was greeted with cheers and thunderous applause by conference-goers.
The conference also voted to endorse party leader Jo Swinson’s proposal to simply revoke Article 50 withdrawal proceedings and cancel Brexit outright if elected, without even troubling to force the British people to vote on the subject again in a direct referendum.
Swinson has, in fairness, been open about her disdain for the will of the people on the question of the European Union for some months, having already declared that she would continue to resist Brexit even if the public voted Leave a second time.
WATCH | “We finally turned them into a colony and that was our plan from the first moment…”
This is what Eurocrats really think about the new treaty May is trying to peddle to the public. Punish her for her betrayal on May 23!pic.twitter.com/8B50RCVeX7
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) May 10, 2019
The Belgian MEP’s speech caused some in the Brexit camp to turn a common refrain of Remain diehards on its heads, however, questioning whether Remainers knew they were voting to be part of an empire rather than a trade club.
“Goodness, what part of this speech says internationalism and global cooperation?” asked columnist Dia Chakravarty.
“It’s all about defending ourselves against the proverbial other, be it China, India, or the U.S. I genuinely wonder how many Remainers actually voted for this ugly version of the EU in 2016.”
— #StandUp4Brexit (@StandUp4Brexit) September 15, 2019