Nigel Farage questions UK's £54million payment to France
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On January 1, the post-Brexit transition period expired, meaning EU rules no longer apply in Britain. It is a new chapter for the country’s national history – as for the last 48 years, EU membership constricted Britain’s ability to make its own decisions and set policies. The journey there was not an easy one, as Brexit Day was preceded by a debilitating political period that bitterly divided the nation.
Many parliamentarians and politicians across the continent even tried to ignore the democratic will of the people, as they attempted to overturn the result of the referendum completely or push for a “Brexit in name only”.
As Britain tries to reaffirm itself as a global trading nation outside the shackles of the EU, unearthed reports shed light on a plan devised by Brussels in 2011 that “would have wiped the UK off the map”.
In 2011, senior Tories revealed the details of an EU plan to “carve up Britain” by setting up a cross-Channel region.
If approved, the project would have seen southern England and northern France merged into a territory called “Arch Manche” complete with its own flag.
Former Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles inherited the details of the plan by his Whitehall department from the previous Labour Government.
The former Communities Secretary said: “Labour ministers have been caught red-handed conspiring with European bureaucrats to wipe England off the map and replace our historic boroughs, counties and cities with transnational euro-regions.
“Massive amounts of taxpayers’ money are being wasted on vanity projects.
“I intend to fight these plans, stop this waste and protect England’s national and local identities from EU empire building.”
Arc Manche was formally launched in 2005 to forge closer links between local councils in southern English counties with their counterparts in northern France.
It was one of 12 cross-border regions set up under the EU’s “Interreg” initiative – criticised as an attempt to erode national identities.
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The name “Manche” – meaning sleeve – was taken from the French name for the English Channel.
According to official figures, EU chiefs quietly poured around £1billion a year of taxpayers’ money into the regions and in 2011, they wanted to significantly raise the profile of Arc Manche at a cost of thousands of pounds.
EU officials had already commissioned a new “transnational emblem” to be rolled out across southern England, described by its designers as a “series of concentric circles symbolising the flow of projects and stakeholders”, and “representing so many bridges between territories”.
One Whitehall aide rubbished the emblem as “a bid to subvert the St George’s flag and the Union Jack”.
Among the projects designed to promote the Arc Manche there were a series of cycle routes seeking to link northern France and southern England.
Maps of the proposed routes showed cycle lanes stopping at the Channel and re-starting at the French side.
Details emerged just days after Eurocrats pleaded for more taxpayers’ cash for Brussels coffers.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said about the project: “The Arc Manche is the perfect euro project.
“Nobody wants it, nobody called for it and nobody knows what it’s for.
“Its proudest boast is a logo that wouldn’t have won a Blue Peter badge, and cross-Channel cycle routes.”
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While a new region was never created, National Rally (NR) leader Ms Le Pen, who lost to Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 election, has now backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s idea for a bridge across the English Channel to link Britain and France after Brexit.
While he was serving as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May, Mr Johnson suggested building a 22-mile road crossing between the UK and France.
The now Prime Minister believed the bridge would have boosted Britain’s tourism industry.
He wrote on Twitter: “Our economic success depends on good infrastructure and good connections.
“Should the Channel Tunnel be just a first step?”
Ms Le Pen, who is gearing up for her third presidential bid in the spring, said about the proposal: “Boris Johnson is a very creative and always surprising person.
“A bridge over the English Channel… why not?
“Anything that can link our countries deserves to be considered.”
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