Farage: Dutch 'No' vote on Ukraine is boost for Brexit campaigners

Senior MEPs say outcome of the referendum is 'wake-up call' for EU policymakers.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

07 Apr 2016

Ukip leader Nigel Farage says he has been contacted by eurosceptics in the Netherlands about working together in Britain's upcoming 'In-Out' campaign.

This emerged after Dutch voters rejected a key EU agreement with Ukraine in what is seen as a boost to the Brexit campaign.

On Thursday, Farage said the greatest impact of the Dutch vote would be the message that it was not just "little Englanders" who were not happy with the EU.


"I think the feeling that we are not alone is, potentially, a very powerful one," he said. 

"Eurosceptics have been put into a box that we are being a bit silly and who want to be left alone on our little island."

Farage added: "I think it really could have an impact. I remember clearly that after the last referendums against the EU in France and the Netherlands there was a significant increase in Euroscepticism in the polls."

Further comment came from the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who was said to be "sad" about the result. 

"The European Commission has taken note of the outcome of the vote," said his spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, adding that it is now the Dutch government's role to "analyse" the outcome and "decide on the course of action."

Alain Lamassoure, a French member of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, called the vote "dreadful" and said it was unfortunate that referendums could be used to "challenge" foreign policy decisions taken at an EU level. "It is a distortion which can lead to the collapse of a very important agreement for the EU."

Jo Leinen, a member of Parliament's centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group, called the referendum an "abuse" of direct democracy.

"If European decisions become increasingly subject of national referendums, the EU will ultimately be unable to act," Leinen said.

Guy Verhofstadt, President of the centrist Alliance for Liberals and Democrats group in the Parliament, said the 'No' vote was another wake up call for the EU.

"Europe is not capable of dealing with the big crises we face," he said. "We can only solve this by working more closely together and reform Europe. It is time for another way for Europe."

Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP, the biggest bloc in the European Parliament, said the referendum result was a "big defeat" for the Dutch government and should be taken seriously.

"We need to make Europe more democratic and transparent,

"Politicians needed to engage more with citizens, explain things to them and show that they take people's concerns seriously. This applies particularly to Britain ahead of the June referendum."

Reinhard Butikofer and Monica Frassoni, Co-Chairs of the European Green Party said: "Like it or not, it is obvious that after the Dutch referendum the European Union the European Union has to mend fences by re-negotiating two core aspects of the association agreement. 

"More specifically, the Ukraine accession perspective and the scourge of corruption. The European Parliament should come together to clearly demand this from the Commission and the Council: in this present situation which obviously constitutes a crisis of European democracy, the European Parliament has to act or it is not worth having."

Writing on his Facebook page, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, "If this is the outcome, we will have to consider this advice carefully. It implies a political fact that ratification cannot just proceed. But the majority of the people that cast their ballot, have voted against. 

"We will need to follow a step by step approach. 

"The first step will now be to get more clarity on the outcome, after which the cabinet will deliberate and enter into a discussion with parliament, as well as with our European partners and Ukraine. 

"This will process will take time, not just days, probably weeks."


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