EU president Barroso tips Ukip for big gains

 

The euro-sceptic UK Independence Party could become "the first force" in next year's European elections, the President of the European Commission said today.

Jose Manuel Barroso said that the increasingly anti-European stance taken by the Conservatives could help Nigel Farage's Ukip beat them in the May 2014 polls, as voters will "between the original and the copy... prefer the original".

Mr Barroso's comments came as he answered questions in the European Parliament following his State of the Union speech, in which he appeared to warn that critics of the EU who want to "roll back our integration" risk taking the continent back to the divisions and warfare of the early part of the 20th century.

He made no mention of Prime Minister David Cameron's promise to renegotiate UK membership and hold a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU after the 2015 general election. But responding to questions from the leader of Conservative MEPs Martin Callanan, Mr Barroso said: "I think increasingly your party and your group is looking like Ukip and the eurosceptic, anti-European group.

"I start to have some doubts that you are going to be elected yourself in Britain, if it's not going to be Ukip as the first force in British elections, because when it comes to being against Europe, the people - between the original and the copy - they prefer the original. That is why they are going to vote for Mr Farage and not Mr Callanan.

"If those forces that are pro-Europe - or even those that are not really pro-Europe but constructive - have the same speech and the same political attitude to the anti-Europeans, the euro-sceptics, the populists, they will win the next election."

In his speech, Mr Barroso hailed European integration as "the valid answer" to the wars of the 20th century.

"Next year, it will be one century after the start of the First World War. A war that tore Europe apart, from Sarajevo to the Somme. We must never take peace for granted. We need to recall that it is because of Europe that former enemies now sit around the same table and work together...

"Let me say this to all those who rejoice in Europe's difficulties and who want to roll back our integration and go back to isolation: the pre-integrated Europe of the divisions, the war, the trenches, is not what people desire and deserve. The European continent has never in its history known such a long period of peace as since the creation of the European Community. It is our duty to preserve it and deepen it."

Speaking after the debate, Mr Farage said: "It is utter arrogance that this man, who has overseen rioting in Greece, who has impoverished hundreds of thousands across the European Union by putting erroneous ideology ahead of common sense and democracy, somehow believes that his self-interested megalomaniac supra-national undemocratic organisation is the bringer of peace in Europe.

"Are they that blind as to fail to understand why the problems of Europe were caused in the past? The accountability of those serving in politics, the recourse to public opinion and the sympathy with national cultures and identities are what are key to maintaining harmony in any nation state. The EU have proven time and again they wish to sweep such considerations under the carpet in favour of promoting a self-serving power structure.

"Far from the peacekeepers, they will be proven the warmongers of this century by denying the people of Europe a voice and an identity."

A Conservative spokesman said: 'We disagree strongly with the President of the Commission.

'As the PM has said, support for Britain's EU membership is wafer thin. The EU needs fundamental change. This underlines why we need a strong result at next year's European elections for David Cameron and the Conservatives - to show Britain's absolute determination to back the PM's plan to reform the EU and give people a referendum on our membership. If Ukip do well, Brussels will ignore the outcome.

"Ukip are all talk when it comes to the EU. Only Conservatives will deliver change and a referendum."

Asked about Mr Barroso's comments, Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said: "The case that the Prime Minister has been making is a forward-looking one, not one that looks to the past.

"The point is that the questions which are facing individual countries in the EU - how do we make our economies more competitive and how we strengthen our relationships with emerging economies - these are forward looking questions."

He added: "Rather than trying to second guess what the British electorate might come out with, the right thing to do is to focus on the need for fundamental change and a flexible, adaptable, open EU."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices