Brexit a ‘heresy’ of EU ‘faith’ bloc supporters eager to stop repeating, Francois claims
Mark Francois: EU project is almost akin to a religion
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Mark Francois spoke to Express.co.uk about the current state of the European Union and accused supporters of the bloc of treating it like a “religion”. He believed those in the European Commission, therefore, saw the UK’s departure of the EU as an act of “heresy” as they turned their back on the “one true faith”. Mr Francois explained there have been examples over the past year which show the fractures in the EU and argued the pandemic has thrust those into the forefront of debate.
Speaking to Express.co.uk earlier this autumn, Mr Francois was asked whether the pandemic has shown the strength of the European Union or whether it has highlighted problems in the bloc.
He explained: “There are internal tensions within the European Union and in some ways, the pandemic has brought these to bear.
“A number of other nations were going their own way rather than using the collective EU vaccination programme.”
During the height of the vaccination effort, some countries in Europe which were relying on the EU’s vaccine procurement programme looked for alternatives.
At the beginning of the year, Serbia signed several deals with American, Chinese, and Russian vaccine providers rather than wait for the EU’s programme to reach them.
Serbia’s Government was also angry at the slow UN Covax programme.
The Balkan country is currently in negotiations to join the EU and is expected to become a member by 2025.
Hungary also began approving vaccines for domestic use which the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had not yet passed.
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As a result, both countries saw much higher vaccination rates when compared to other countries that took longer to catch up.
Mr Francois continued: “So I think the EU is under pressure, and in terms of arguments about the Northern Ireland Protocol, or about Gibraltar or Jersey or you have to see this in an overall context which is this.
“For many people on the continent within the European Union, especially in the European Commission.
“The idea of a federal superstate, what they often refer to as the ‘project’ is almost akin to a religion.
“It’s a bit like an article of faith that transcends everything.
“And what did we do? Well, we committed an act of heresy, we walked away from the true faith in the view of these people.
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“And therefore, many, in particular in the Commission, believe we must be punished.”
Mr Francois said the Commission wanted to see the UK punished to deter any other members from leaving the bloc.
In an interview with French media, former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier revealed the EU would come up with ways to retaliate against the UK when they broke parts of the Brexit agreement.
These ranged from tariffs on UK products to “controlling more British ships”.
He said: “You have an agreement. You have a very precise, extremely precise agreement and is not respected by London.
“It is London that is responsible and therefore the one who takes serious responsibilities for the future relations that we are going to have.
“And I, if I am President of the Republic, am going to have with this great country, friend and neighbour, and the European Union is going to have.
“So we have retaliatory measures and compensatory measures. We can restore tariffs on certain products or we can control more British ships.
“You can cross-suspend parts of the agreement.”
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