EU leaders in Brussels have nominated former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker to be president of the European Commission, in a blow to the UK. Prime Minister David Cameron called it “a serious mistake”. “This is going to be a long, tough fight,” he said. He had pushed for a vote on Mr Juncker – breaking with tradition – and 26 out of 28 countries backed him. Only Mr Cameron and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban voted against him. Mr Juncker is also likely to win a vote by Euro MPs.
The result was, of course, hardly a shock but Mr. Cameron’s post-vote behavior was a peculiarly pathetic performance, still talking about imaginary reforms that are not on the table, not in the room, and not in the building — as Mrs Merkel took the opportunity to make perfectly clear.
Over at the Daily Telegraph, Fraser Nelson looks at the smashed glass and tries to find it half full. Courage, principle, you know how it goes. This is nonsense. There is no chance of reform. To claim that there is amounts to an evasion, not a policy. It is cowardice, not courage.
[Cameron’s] position is strong and simple: he wants a reformed Europe, and wants that Europe to make its best offer direct to the British public.
Well, I might want to meet a supermodel . . .
UKIP’s Nigel Farage is not quite so understanding as Mr. Nelson, tweeting:
David Cameron’s response to Juncker’s appointment shows that he is a loser who has learned nothing.
Back to Fraser Nelson:
There is an element of Mr Smith Goes to Washington about all of this. Cameron has arrived in Brussels shocked at how these politicians all say one thing in private then another in public. He had been promised that Italy, Germany and Sweden would back him in demanding someone better to succeed José Manuel Barroso, but has ended up fighting largely alone.
Oh come on. Cameron has been prime minister since 2010, if he doesn’t know by now how the EU works . . .
But there is an even more serious point underneath all this, bigger than Britain’s woes, and Nelson makes it well:
The Juncker campaign, meanwhile, is a case study in how democracy is not supposed to work. Just a few weeks ago, electorates across Europe were in open revolt against the Brussels orthodoxy. Ukip and similar anti-establishment parties made massive gains – but not enough, crucially, to upset the overall balance of power. The same people still control the European Parliament, an obscure institution that now wants to make a power grab and appoint the head of the European Commission.
It is an audacious plan, and it looks like being successful. The Lisbon Treaty introduced a vague pledge that national leaders need to take the Euro elections “into account” when choosing a new Commission chief. But Juncker, and some other chancers, took this to mean that they were standing in a presidential election. They set up fake campaigns and held debates. Juncker visited 35 European cities and gave hundreds of interviews – not seeming to care that his name was not on any ballot paper. And he seems to have got away with it: unless Cameron single-handedly overturns the EU machine today, Juncker will be elected president and spend five years doing business with national leaders who regard him as foolish, dangerous and useless after lunch.
The idea that the correct response to last month’s Euro elections is the enstoolment of a technocratic federalist is, of course, preposterous . . .
And so it is. And so Europe lurches deeper into post-democracy. Business as usual, in other words. No surprise there.