UK left out of campaign for EU's top job

Martin Schulz press conference in Brussels, 7 May 14 Socialist Martin Schulz is not including the UK on his campaign itinerary

The candidates debate in English. Their press conferences are in English. Their entourages spin speeches in English. But England (as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) barely features in their campaign battle plans.

While the five contenders hoping to be the next European Commission president munch up road and air miles campaigning across Europe the UK is ignored, written out of the script. An omission that says a lot.

A quick recap: With two weeks to go until the European elections, the contest to run the EU Commission is heating up - from a frosty start. These are the people picked by the party groups in the European Parliament to be their nomination for EU Commission President - the most important job in Brussels.

Based on their reading of the Lisbon Treaty, MEPs believe they now have the right to pick the next president. That's why we're seeing this contest. For the first time the main party groups have picked one candidate to be the figurehead of their election campaigns. They say the candidate of the group with the most MEPs after the election will become the next Commission president.

But you won't see them on the stump in the UK. Martin Schulz, the centre-left's candidate and current president of the European Parliament, bluntly told a press conference on Wednesday: "I will not go to the UK to campaign".

He did pop to Belfast for a day last month to meet the moderate nationalist SDLP, but that's it.

Even though the Labour Party are part of Mr Schulz's group he won't be seen clasping hands with party leader Ed Miliband in a town centre near you.

UK debate different

The centre-right European People's Party candidate Jean-Claude Juncker won't be visiting the UK either, although that's less of a surprise because David Cameron took the Conservative Party out of the EPP a few years ago.

Only the Liberal candidate Guy Verhofstadt might put in an appearance - at the Oxford Union. But his office says that might slip too.

So while this contest to be Commission president rolls through Europe, gaining some attention from voters and hacks, it's invisible in Britain.

After the Schulz press conference I spoke to one of his team and asked him why the snub? And it turns out the Labour Party has not invited Martin Schulz over. The aide explained the UK European election campaign is unlike any other in Europe. It is entirely framed by domestic politics, with the added spice of an argument over Britain's future membership of the EU.

Commission candidates unknown in Britain are not considered useful soldiers in the British political ground war. The UK's semi-detached place in Europe and the EU's weary endurance of Britain doing things differently are symbolised by the absence of Commission candidates on the other side of the Channel.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    mostadome @491
    "too many"
    Not enough jobs, taxes, houses, etc

    @509 "want my country back" (lots of other jobs).

    If the country you want is of 'work for all', with a home for all, you should want democratic capitalisation of people's lives, paid work enabled for all, building & working in "schools, hospitals, old people's homes, the list goes on & on". Ask Nigel about capital & democracy... RSVP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    517. 5th element
    80 years after Oswald Mosley blamed all of Britain's woes on foreigners we're getting the same rhetoric from Nigel Farage.

    My grandad, who fought in WW2, compared him to Mosley as well. Churchill united this country, the likes of Farage tear it apart. So much for patriotism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    80 years after Oswald Mosley blamed all of Britain's woes on foreigners we're getting the same rhetoric from Nigel Farage. It's always got to be someone else's fault that this country's not the guiding light and economic powerhouse of the world it once was.
    Maybe its the dark and nasty side of some British politicians constantly looking for a scapegoat which is the reason we're where we are?

  • Comment number 516.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    512. Mark
    For those that say the EU has kept peace in Europe, I have one word to say..Ukraine.

    Well, the agreement which Yanukovich reneged on, betraying his people and deserting the country, would have been a huge step in that direction. Unfortunately, Putin decided he had to get his greedy mitts on Crimea. Him and McCain are responsible for this mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.


    UK & EU
    Dictates of reason & care, of conscience, lost to those of fear & greed. Vote does not make democracy if 1% cheat 99%, & 51% enslave / slay 49%. When our vote on equal v. unequal partnership?

    'my country

    Maybe you accept economist definition of 'full employment' (3-5% out), but 'lots of other jobs' were casual & terms were disputed: In Place of Strife?

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    "if you didn't like it there were lots of other jobs"

    Typical selfish and unprofessional attitude which has helped create the culture of entitlement that now requires us to employ foreigners with a strong work ethic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    504. WonkyEZ 

    Been looking through your crystal ball again?

    I didn't vote for the EU and look at the mess its member states are in now.

    The EU project has failed and I am seriously concerned about its plans for expansion.

    For those that say the EU has kept peace in Europe, I have one word to say..Ukraine.

    Yes it will not be made easy, but self determination is worth it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    509. mostadome
    in the 60s there were hundreds of jobs...I want my country back.

    Sounds more like you want the 60's back. Not gonna happen, mate.

    "if you didn't like it there were lots of other jobs". With that attitude, no wonder if you can't get a job in 2014. World's changed, mate. Time to work hard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    506. Phffft
    503. mostadome

    Oh dear. Please don't tell my you don't see the irony in this statement:
    "UKIP is not Racist. There are too many Foreigners here."

    Looks like the anti-humour Nazis have already won the battle against the good old British sense of irony. How ironic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    493 All for All
    Rubbish, in the 60s there were hundreds of jobs, you could go and work at a job one day , if you didn't like it there were lots of other jobs you could start the next day. The job centre walls were covered with jobs. What planet are you from. I want my country back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    503 You should have directed your comment at 491, not 502 who wrote LOL.

    The ranking of education shows how the EU can't work together. PISA tests rote learning. We are told that Korea does well on these tests because they teach rote learning. Greece taught rote learning and was criticized by EU. It moves away from this learning and gets demoted. Greek doctors better than UK's, though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    486. EUprisoner209456731
    "We can afford a better future if we stop giving billions to the worse-than-useless, destructive, dangerous "EU"
    Then we can be more like Switzerland, Norway, Canada Australia etc."

    Switzerland and Norway pay billions to the EU.
    Apparently - unlike you - they think it is useful.

    You want "pupils secretly recording their teachers"? What?
    Like in Nazi Germany?

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    503. mostadome

    What he is confused with, that one does not have to be racist to be uncomfortable with the rate of immigration.If he starts to insult take comfort it happens when he`s rattled,LOL..

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    485. EUprisoner209456731
    He was also pro-"EU" and Saddam Hussein

    Saddam was given the key to Detroit in 1980. Might explain why it's in ruins now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    UK vote out if that's what you believe to be best for you. Don't vote so because of UKIP tell you, though, unless you don't want to accept responsibility for or want to have someone else (UKIPpers) to blame for the subsequent UK mess, and MESS you will have brought about..

  • Comment number 503.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    491. mostadome
    UKIP is not Racist. There are too many Foreigners here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    Scots and Eurodrones are two peas in a pod. Scottish Eurodrones are the worst of both worlds. Both believe in existential fantasies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 500.

    Of course the UK is discussing domestic issues. Its leaders want to avoid discussing how much the EU helps UK. It also helps UK workers who would get a much worse deal if UK out. Ask the average UKer what the EU is and the answer will be what that guy in UKIP says we should hate. Who's that? That guy who's good at blabbing. What's the EZ? A kind of margarine.


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