The europhiles’ preferred candidate for the Presidency of the EU Commission is the very embodiment of the European project. Dull, relentlessly centralising, disdainful of the people and, most of all, anonymous (a recent poll commissioned by the AECR showed only 8 per cent of EU residents could name him), if a particularly cruel god was to mulch the European treaties into a human form and breathe life into them, the monstrous creation would call himself Jean-Claude Juncker.
All of which goes some way to explaining why David Cameron has chosen to oppose Juncker’s candidacy. The Prime Minister is right to think that the Luxembourger is anathema to Britain’s national interests, proposing a world-view completely at odds with both reality and public opinion.
However, Cameron is likely to be stymied in his gamble by the fact that the house controls the odds.
As Dan Hannan has pointed out, there is no candidate who is anything other than an enthusiastic euro-federalist – the alternative is just a list of people who share the Brussels line. So even if the nomination is successfully blocked, we gain nothing from doing so – indeed, as Peter Oborne says, we could lose out by replacing the rude, arrogant Juncker with someone more diplomatic, who may well make greater advances towards ever closer union.
And what if the British attempt to prevent this odd coronation fails? Well, the Prime Minister will have drawn his line in the sand only to have it comprehensively scuffed out by the European establishment. For a leader pitching a renegotiation based on Britain’s supposed influence in Brussels it would be a blow.
The real problem here isn’t Jean-Claude Juncker – he’s merely an irritating symptom of it. The real issue is the very basis of the EU. The whole ratcheting contraption is designed to roll ever forwards, and the only drivers on offer all believe in pressing the pedal to the metal. It’s hard to see an up-side in spending political capital on trying to change one of them for another of the same opinion.