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Analysis

Does Farage really want EU to tell Spain what to do?

by Hugo Dixon | 04.10.2017

Nigel Farage is feigning anger because the EU hasn’t done more to back Catalans campaigning for independence. But if it had, you can be sure the UKIP MEP would be hounding the EU for undermining Spain’s sovereignty.

Madrid’s crackdown on those voting in an unofficial referendum on Sunday – firing rubber bullets and dragging people by the hair from voting stations – was brutal. Although the Spanish courts have declared the referendum unconstitutional, it would have been far smarter for the government just to ignore it.

But Farage isn’t in a position to criticise the EU. After all, he has made his name by arguing that the EU is a superstate that intervenes excessively in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. What the EU is actually showing is that it isn’t a superstate.

The UKIP MEP has also got his facts wrong. In a column in today’s Telegraph, he wrote: “The EU’s Commission simply repeated the Spanish line that the referendum was illegal. It didn’t even condemn the shocking violence.”

This isn’t correct. The Commission called on the government to talk to the separatists and condemned violence. Meanwhile, Donald Tusk, the EU Council’s president, appealed to Spain’s prime minister to find ways to stop further use of force.

The EU has two important objectives, which can conflict. It mustn’t interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. But it must also uphold the EU’s principles, including respect for human rights, as set out in Article 2 of its treaty.

In extreme situations, these principles have to triumph over considerations of sovereignty. If a state was killing peaceful protesters and putting politicians behind bars without trial, the EU would have to take action, as it’s allowed to under Article 7 of the treaty. And we should be glad that it has such principles and powers.

Although the situation in Barcelona hasn’t reached such a point, it is reasonable to ask whether the Commission has done enough with its fairly mild condemnation of violence that didn’t single out Spanish police tactics.

But any anti-European tempted to say it hasn’t done enough should also condemn how our own most prominent Brexiter reacted to Sunday’s violence. Boris Johnson did tell Reuters that he was “obviously worried by any violence”. But when he tweeted about the events he didn’t mention the violence; he gave his support for Spain’s unity and the importance of upholding its constitution.

Unsurprisingly, when giving his two barrels to the Commission, Farage didn’t mention Johnson’s intervention.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “Does Farage really want EU to tell Spain what to do?”

  • So can we expect the bigot Farage to demand the EU back Scots independence if the SNP called an unofficial referendum and received even a wafer-thin 52% majority? Of course not!

    The man is utterly shameless. He chastises Obama, Merkel and Hollande for interfering in Britains affairs at the time of the 2016 referendum. And yet he goes to the US, interferes in US affairs by publically endorsing someone as bigotted as himself, Trump. He interferes in French affairs by publically endorsing another bigot, Marine le Penn on French soil. He interferes in German politics and openly endorses the far-right and natural bedfellows, AfD. All the while swanning around the EU attempting to create several Brexits.

    And now he is poking his unwanted nose into a crisis between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. But then, this is his stock in trade. Make things worse and then complain how bad things are whilst offering no credible solutions. As I said, he is utterly shameless.

  • He’s a disgrace. Forever lecturing the EU about interfering in domestic politics, yet happy to blame them for not intervening more on Catalonia/Spain conflict. This from a man 7 times failing to be elected an MP, failed bid to be UK Ambassador to US, ambitions to take seat in unelected Lords, unexplained visit to German Embassy on private matters last year. And he still manages to have his own radio phone in 5 days a week!

  • Nigel Farage has done the easy bit in the U K by getting his way on the back of lies and not being prepared to even contemplate the idea that the people of this country should be given the chance to change their view once a cost benefit analysis can be done. That analysis should also include the effect on Ireland which he never considered when starting his campaign and seems ready to ignore the possibility of a return to the troubles of the past. Will the brexiteers be prepared to take responsibility for causing it? I doubt it !!
    What a hypocrite to complain that the E U is not interfering in the affairs of Spain.