The outgoing president of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, used his keynote speech to take a pop at Brexit.

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In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of thew 2019/2020 academic year at the College of Europe in Bruges, the EU Council President Donald Tusk, said that as he was soon to be leaving his post he could now speak more freely about Brexit.

And he started this piece of his speech by saying:

"Finally, if you allow me, I want to tell you something I wouldn't have dared to say a few months ago, as I could be fired for being too frank."

And he followed it up by saying that he envied the former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, because he could "…finally, honestly say what he thinks about Brexit".

And he went on to say:

"I have heard repeatedly from Brexiteers that they wanted to leave the European Union to make the United Kingdom global again, believing that only alone, it can truly be great. You could hear in these voices a longing for the Empire. But the reality is exactly the opposite.

"Only as part of a united Europe can the UK play a global role, only together can we confront, without any complexes, the greatest powers of this world. In fact, I can say the same about Germany or France.

"And the world knows it. I have heard the same in India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa; that after its departure, the UK will become an outsider, a second-rate player, while the main battlefield will be occupied by China, the United States and the European Union.

"Why are they doing this?" – I was asked this regretful question everywhere I went. One of my English friends is probably right when he says with melancholy that Brexit is the real end of the British Empire."

And he went on to tell UK Remainers that their battle was not over and that they shouldn't give up saying:

"In this match, we had added time, we are already in extra time, perhaps it will even go to penalties."

Now I do have to point out that where he says countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa are questioning the UK's decision to leave the EU, all those countries are now independent having been under the thrall of another state – think about it – and would themselves probably laugh at the idea of again becoming satellite states of a foreign power.

But before you either spit feathers or applaud Tusk's words, depending on which side of the fence you sit on, there have been few reports, if any, regarding another aspect of his speech.

And this concerned his obsession with EU unity and seeing what he calls 'Europe' as a political entity with sovereignty.

Not only that, he views Russia and Putin as a direct threat to the EU and also said that:

"There will be no sovereign Europe without stable Balkans integrated with the rest of the continent…"

as well as:

"And there will be no sovereign Europe without an independent Ukraine. Our tough and consistent stance on Russia was the first expression, so clear and unambiguous, of our sovereignty. We must persevere in this."

This comes after earlier in his speech where he said:

"First, it was about Kremlin's aggressive policy. I was (and still am) convinced that, in this game, what is at stake, is not only the future of independent Ukraine and the security of Central Europe, including that of my country, but the sovereignty of Europe as a political entity."

And:

"I had to publicly remind others, almost every week, that Russia is not our "strategic partner", but our "strategic problem"."

And he also asked:

"What's the point of unity, sovereignty and solidarity if we are unable to defend Europe…"

So, he's been taking a bullish stance with Russia and he would like to see that Hawkish position continue, so as to try and fully wrest control of the Ukraine from the sphere of Russian influence.

That of course would bring in the question of The Crimea, which was recently annexed by Putin showing how determined he is to maintain control of that area.

And I'm not sure that the EU poking the Russian bear on its own doorstep while it still has an unpredictable leader in place and while trying to distance yourself from Trump and the might of the US, is quite the way to go about things.

In fact, it is distinctly against the ethos of the European Union.

Because Article 8 of the Lisbon Treaty says:

"The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation."

And Germany is quite happy to take Russian Gazprom gas via the Nord Stream pipeline isn't it?

It will be interesting to see where this all goes when the EU starts permanently structuring its EU armed forces and foreign policy objectives – they may be a far cry from what the UK would want to see.

It would surprise me if many UK Remainers would be that happy with staying in a club that was aching to have a barney with Russia over Ukraine and the Crimea. Where next? Russia itself?

Now, it seems that voters are more likely to define themselves by Brexit than they are to identify with a political party.

According to YouGov, 76% of us identify either very strongly or strongly with being either a Brexiteer or a Remainer.

Whereas only 48% say they identify either strongly or very strongly with a political party.

Just goes to show that Brexit is the issue, however hard the two party state tries to convince you otherwise.

In his latest appearance today, The Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, has confirmed that he will not be standing down any more of his candidates and will take the Brexit battle to Labour and Remainer held constituencies – all except the Tory ones of course.

And Farage also claimed that his candidates were coming under 'relentless' pressure from the Tories to stand down before the nominations deadline passed at 4pm today.

This comes after reports that overnight the Tories had been offering The Brexit party leader a sort of non-deal pact.

This would have meant Farage pulling his team out of all but about 40 Labour held seats and all he would get in return was a promise from the Tories that they would only put up paper candidates against the remainder of his team.

But I reckon that those so called 'paper' candidates might have been a bit more active in trying to steal Brexit Party votes than the words 'paper candidate' normally imply.

This was, of course, just not good enough for Farage, as the Tories should have pulled those candidates completely and not fielded them at all. So he declared at lunchtime today that he would be fielding the remaindeder of his team.

So this show of political arrogance by the Tories has, it seems, re-inserted the steel into Farage's spine and resulted in him also saying that he could not now consider voting for the Conservatives or any other party for that matter.

But I do have to wonder how many of these Brexit party candidates are there for show, as there is talk that many of them are really just paper candidates who will not actually be campaigning. I just hope those rumours are wrong.

This whole episode has also left a bad taste in the mouth for many Brexit party supporters in the 317 seats that have been abandoned to the Tories, who are now feeling disenfranchised so are promising to either not vote or spoil their votes – so the Tories may not have gained as much as they'd have hoped from from all this.

Sources:

https://brexitcentral.com/the-european-court-of-justices-pernicious-role-in-the-withdrawal-agreement/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-withdrawal-agreement-and-political-declaration

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/11/14/brexit-comes-party-election

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