Guy Verhofstadt, ex-Belgian PM and inexhaustible gift to pro-Brexit campaigners, got a lot of coverage for his theory of Europeanism at the Lib Dem conference, but what got less attention was the latest opinion poll from his native Flanders:
Belgium (Flanders), Ipsos poll:
VB-ID: 25% (+6)
N-VA-ECR: 23% (-3)
Open Vld-RE: 13% (-1)
CD&V-EPP: 12% (-2)
Groen-G/EFA: 11% (+1)
sp.a-S&D: 8% (-3)
+/- vs. 2019 General Election
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) September 13, 2019
In first place is a resurgent Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) – an outfit of hard right populists, which is allied to the likes of Marie Le Pen and Matteo Salvini. Not far behind is VB’s main rival, the New Flemish Alliance, which represents a lighter shade of eurosceptic Flemish separatism. Together, the two nationalist parties have nearly half the vote. Meanwhile the liberal and pro-federalist party that Mr Verhofstadt founded, ‘Open VLD’, is polling at just 13%.
Perhaps instead of wagging his finger at Brexiteers, he could explain what on earth is going on in Flanders – the region that literally surrounds Brussels, at the heart of the EU.