Nicolas Sarkozy, who couldn’t convince French voters he’d be a better president than Francois Hollande, believes he can persuade us to reconsider Brexit. Based on the way his compatriots now feel about the EU, he might be better off doing some rethinking of his own.
Part of Sarkozy’s pitch for a presidential comeback is a new EU Treaty. He wants to negotiate a “new Europe”. Where have we heard that before?
Every British prime minister for decades has assured us the European project could be reformed. Their broken promises are what made many people realise the only way out was to vote Leave.
Perhaps more interesting is how Sarkozy’s plan will play at home. According to recent research by Pew, only 38% of French voters have a favourable view of the EU today, compared to 69% in 2004. It’s no coincidence support for the Front National has surged at the same time.
Even in Germany, Euroscepticism is on the rise. The anti-EU AfD party recently beat Angela Merkel’s CDU into third place in a regional election.
While the European centre right is still committed to the European project, the peoples of Europe are increasingly Eurosceptic.
It’s hardly surprising. From the Greek debt disaster to the migrant crisis to the terror attacks coordinated from Brussels itself, Euro elites have presided over one mess after another. Yet many are so detached from the people they rule they can’t even understand why they are resented.
And this is the point: if centre-right leaders keep backing a failed, federalist Europe come what may, they will drive more and more voters into the arms of radical – in some cases, extremist – alternatives.
So, with respect Monsieur Sarkozy, it isn’t Britain that needs to think again about its relationship with the EU. It’s politicians like you.