BBC4’s Brexit documentary should be compulsory viewing before voting in the European election

BBC4’s Brexit documentary should be compulsory viewing before voting in the European election

Last Wednesday and Thursday evening, BBC4 screened two episodes of an absolutely extraordinary documentary, Storyville – Brexit: Behind Closed Doors. This “fly on the wall” programme, involved a camera team spending over two years following Guy Verhofstadt MEP, the European Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator, during the twists and turns of Brexit, from the aftermath of the moving of Article 50 by the House of Commons through to the so called “Meaningful Vote 3” (MV3) of a few weeks ago.

This really was a “warts and all” documentary, which has now gone viral on the internet and some of the footage, to British eyes at least, is absolutely shocking.

Throughout the programme, EU politicians – led by Verhofstadt and his team of staffers – were seen repeatedly swearing at the television when watching events in the UK, including calling the Prime Minister “insane” and generally abusing any British politician who sought to question the EU’s version of how Brexit should take place.

In one particularly telling passage, my parliamentary colleague and fellow Eurosceptic, Andrew Rosindell, was filmed attempting to explain to Mr Verhofstadt and his staff why Britain had voted to Leave the EU. Once he had gone, his Irish Chief of Staff said, on camera:

“You really f****d him over. I love it when you f**k over a Tory!”

How can it be, that our so called ‘EU partners’ can treat our elected representatives – and by inference the British people – with such utter contempt?

Perhaps I can help offer an explanation, based on my experience as the Conservative Party’s Shadow Europe Minister between 2007 and 2010. In those three years, reporting to the then Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, I spent a considerable amount of time travelling around the EU and interacting with those in the European institutions, such as the European Commission and the European Parliament. This taught me a number of things but, more than anything, it brought home to me that the desire to form a federal European state – often referred to by its advocates as “the Project” – is almost an act of religious faith among some politicians on the continent, such that absolutely nothing and no-one may be allowed to stand in its way.

For these people, such as President Macron of France but other European leaders too (and certainly the political elites in their countries), what the British did in voting to leave the European Union in 2016, was, therefore, simply unforgivable. We rejected “the Project” and thus committed an utterly heretical act. This was apostasy – and as such, in their view – we deserve everything we get.

This was absolutely plain for all to see from the sheer derision with which the British were treated throughout the two hours of footage. On one occasion – incredibly, bearing in mind he was on camera – one of Verhofstadt’s staffers, exclaimed on hearing that we had agreed to the 585-page so-called “Withdrawal Agreement”, that “We have made them a colony!”. The sheer joy that was evidenced on the faces of the European negotiators when it became apparent that we had acceded to the “Withdrawal Agreement” tells you everything you need to know about why they regarded it as a clear victory over Britain.

Again and again throughout the documentary, the UK’s negotiating tactics are derided by their interlocutors, including the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The Prime Minister and her team are repeatedly disrespected and only on one occasion – when Dominic Raab took over as the Brexit Secretary – did any of the Europeans appear to believe that we had started to resist. Tellingly, Mr Barnier is quoted when describing Mr Raab to his colleagues as saying:

“He comes every week. This may cause, and I am saying this cautiously, coordination problems with the British negotiating team, where clearly they were in the habit of doing things differently.”

Simply translated, I take this to mean “This guy is not malleable, unlike all the others.”

This also highlights how badly the British side negotiated and how willing we were to give in to the EU’s demands. At one point Guy Verhofstadt even jokes of Olly Robbins, the unelected senior civil servant and UK chief negotiator (and close confidant of Theresa May):

“Olly has said that when all of this is over he may need to apply for a Belgian passport!”

From my own point of view, I would be more than happy to write to Belgium’s Interior Minister at any time to ask him to facilitate Mr Robbins’ application as fast as possible – such an utter disaster has he been in attempting to represent the British national interest.

Verhofstadt and his highly self-satisfied team are then filmed watching the result of the first Meaningful Vote in Parliament in January 2019. When the “Withdrawal Agreement” was defeated by 230 votes (the largest defeat in parliamentary history as it turns out), their disappointment is palpable. The pattern is repeated for MV2 and MV3 – by which time Verhofstadt cannot bear to watch, as he has clearly realised what is going to happen.

I have never doubted that I was right to vote against the “Withdrawal Agreement”, but this dramatic insight only confirmed my deep conviction that we were fighting a surrender to the European Union all along. Indeed, Martin Selmayr, the Secretary General of the European Commission said some time ago (although not in the programme) that “Losing Northern Ireland was the price the UK would pay for Brexit”. It seems on reflection the House of Commons was not prepared to pay this price – and rightly so.

One other thing struck me when I watched the programme – as a patriotic Brit – which was that I could not help but be angered by the sheer arrogance of the people on camera and the utter disdain that they had for our country and its people. I was discussing this only yesterday with a TV producer who is a self-declared Remainer but who told me, in her own words:

“I have always been pro-EU and I gladly voted Remain, but when I saw that documentary all I could think was – how dare you talk about us like that, f**k you!”

As a media expert, she also volunteered that these people were not in any way self-conscious about being filmed – because they clearly thought that they were doing nothing wrong.

Perhaps the best quote from the EU side, although admittedly it did not feature in the programme, was when the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said some months ago:

“I’ll have done my job if, in the end, the deal is so tough on the British that they would prefer to stay in the EU.”

In summary, for all our sakes, I would urge every MP and indeed everyone who is thinking of casting a vote in the European Elections on 23rd May (which I hope will be as many people as possible) to watch this programme before deciding how to cast their ballot.

The European elite have completely given themselves away – on camera – and proven once and for all via this programme that 17.4 million people were right all along.

You can watch the documentary via the BBC iPlayer: part one is here and part two is here.