The shady leadership deals which prove why Britain is better off out of the EU – Bill Carmichael

MUCH has been written in recent days about the undemocratic way our next Prime Minister is being selected – 160,000 Conservative party members get to make the choice on behalf of a population of 66 million.

Germany's Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels.  European Union leaders have nominated Germany's Ursula von der Leyen to become the next president of the European Commission.
Germany's Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels. European Union leaders have nominated Germany's Ursula von der Leyen to become the next president of the European Commission.

It is a fair criticism, although it is nothing new. By my reckoning seven politicians, both Labour and Conservative, have become Prime Minister since the Second World War without facing the voters in a general election.

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And compared with the squalid horse-trading that has recently taken place to select our new political overlords in Brussels, the Westminster system is a model of propriety and transparency.

brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe at the inaugural meeting of the new European Parliament.

After countless hours of grubby backroom deals and shady negotiations, the new bosses of the European Union emerged this week – and what a motley bunch they are. If you thought the EU couldn’t possibly do any worse than Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, then I am afraid you are in for a nasty surprise.

They include a woman with a criminal conviction over the misuse of more than £300m of taxpayers’ money and another who is accused of plagiarising her doctorate thesis and who is mired in procurement scandal involving lucrative defence deals.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrives for an EU summit in Brussels where his successor was chosen amid acrimony.

You probably can’t remember voting for these people – and that’s because you didn’t. Elections are banned and European voters – the poor sods who have to pay for the whole corrupt edifice – are not allowed a say.

We don’t vote them in and we can’t vote them out. That’s why Juncker was able to cling onto his job despite numerous examples of bizarre and embarrassing behaviour including stumbling, dancing, slapping people across the face and ruffling their hair – incidents risibly attributed to his “sciatica” according to the EU.

I’ve suffered occasional bouts of sciatica over the years and far from making me giggle uncontrollably they tend to leave me flat out in agony. Maybe I’m on the wrong medication? Whatever, it is clear that Juncker would have been laughed out of office in the UK within a week.

Juncker was chosen five years ago as European Commission President using the “Spitzenkandidaten” process, which at least offered a small semblance of democracy in that the winning candidate came from the largest political party in the European Parliament elections.

This year even this fig leaf was discarded and replaced by a brutal power struggle involving France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

The key post of the unelected President of the Commission has gone to Ursula von der Leyen, the German Defence Minister, who is a strong advocate of an EU army and further centralisation of power to what she calls the “United States of Europe”. The daughter of a senior EU bureaucrat, her main qualification seems to be she is a member of the German CDU and an unflagging Merkel loyalist.

In 2016 she was accused of plagiarising her doctoral thesis but was eventually cleared by Hanover Medical School. It ruled that she had copied the work of other academics and passed it off as her own by mistake, rather than intentionally. Such is the charmed life of the untouchable European elite.

More recently she admitted “errors” in awarding defence contracts to private consultants worth many millions, but again, incredibly, escaped any sanction.

The new head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, comes with an even more sullied reputation. In 2016, she was convicted by a French court of an abuse of authority when she was Finance Minister in 2007.

The court found her guilty of negligence in that she failed to challenge a huge compensation payout of taxpayer cash to a French tycoon. She faced a year in jail and a fine of over £12,000 – but guess what? The court decided to impose no penalty whatsoever. Do you detect a pattern here?

The new President of the European Council – Tusk’s old job – goes to Belgium’s interim Prime Minister Charles Michel, an arch federalist and staunch ally of Macron. These people have no more democratic legitimacy than a Bourbon king.

What we have here is a recipe for further corruption and centralising of power in the hands of an unaccountable elite – as well as risking European security by foolishly undermining Nato. Looking at this line-up one thought springs immediately to mind – thank goodness we are leaving.