Bill Carmichael: Jean-Claude Juncker's arrogance is a reminder of why we're leaving the European Unit

THE only sane reaction to Jean-Claude Juncker's State of the European Union address this week is to say 'Thank heavens we are leaving!'

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker

The one thing clear from the belligerent and arrogant speech by the unelected European Commission President is that we really have dodged a bullet.

All the nightmare consequences of staying in the EU, that were pointed out by the Leave side last year – and dismissed as lies and scaremongering by the Remoaners – have turned out to be 100 per cent correct.

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More centralised power to the unelected Commission? Check.

Less power to democratically elected national governments? Check.

An extension of “borderless Europe”, which has directly led to a migrant crisis and wave after wave of terrorist attacks? Check.

The creation of a European army that will undermine Nato and threaten the security of Europe? Check.

Forcing EU member countries to adopt the euro, which has directly led to immiseration and mass unemployment across half the continent? Check.

This man may wield immense power, but he has no more democratic legitimacy than a Bourbon king. He is a European President that absolutely no one in Europe voted for, and we can’t get rid of him no matter how dangerous his polices or bizarre his behaviour.

It is almost as though freed from the obligation to make sensible compromises with the UK in the light of Brexit, Juncker has let rip with a mad plan for a true United States of Europe, regardless of the wishes of the people of the continent.

He told the European Parliament: “The wind is back in Europe’s sails.” Perhaps, but the problem is the timbers are rotten and the vessel is holed below the water line.

Part of me wants to thank our lucky stars we won’t be on board the sinking ship and just let them get on with it – but I have too many friends in the EU to give way to such a sentiment, and a failing EU is bad for British business.

I can just imagine the reaction in Poland and Hungary, for example, after Juncker bluntly warned them they could no longer resist the dictates from Berlin or Brussels no matter what the views are of the ordinary people or their democratically elected governments.

Remember, the countries of Eastern Europe are being shamelessly bullied to accept tens of thousands of migrants invited in by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel invited them in, so it should be Germany’s problem. But Brussels, and their paymasters in Berlin, don’t see it that way, and they are turning the thumbscrews on countries like Poland.

Indeed, the whole Schengen borderless Europe idea has been an unmitigated disaster – so how strange that Juncker’s solution is to extend it further to Romania, Bulgaria and eventually Croatia? Given the escalating migrant crisis, it does not take a genius to work out how that one is likely to turn out.

Juncker also made a naked power grab by suggesting that the (unelected) post of President of the European Council be merged with the (unelected) post of President of the European Commission to create a new, all-powerful (and unelected) President of Europe.

He made little mention of Brexit, except to say that the British will come to regret our decision to leave (trust me, Jean-Claude, we won’t). But in fact Brexit is hugely important to the EU, not because Brussels loves us (they clearly don’t), but because they love our money.

And Brexit is going to blast an enormous £10bn year hole in the EU’s budget. They have no way of filling this gap – they cannot increase revenue by putting up taxes and they refuse to cut spending for political reasons.

That is why the EU negotiators have been so obstinate in demanding a huge “divorce bill” from the UK as the price for our leaving. But whatever they get from us – and it won’t be anywhere near the preposterous 100m euro they have demanded – will only delay the crisis for a few years.

I would love to see the EU reform itself into a truly democratic institution, capable of creating prosperity and peace and of responding to the aspirations of its 500 million citizens.

But that isn’t going to happen while people like Juncker are in charge, and frankly the current direction of travel fills me with dread.