I would like to welcome the Dutch Prime Minister, Mr Rutte, to the hot seat of the six month revolving presidency.
I note you're a keen historian, because you've been quoting Winston Churchill at us this morning as indeed Mr Verhofstadt backed you up. You're quite right, post-war Churchill did encourage integration especially between France and Germany but made it absolutely clear at all times that the United Kingdom should not be a part of it and I'd like you please to acknowledge that. I also very much doubt that 50 years after his death that Churchill would approve of the club the way it is because he was a democrat.
This EU faces an existential crisis, indeed there is an outbreak of a contagious disease. It is not a new one. The Greeks first came across it a couple of thousand years ago, the virus in its new form began in Denmark in the early 90's but was put down with a heavy German hand. There have been a couple of outbreaks in Ireland but substantial European money again cured the outbreak. But the red alert in 2005 when the contagion swept the Netherlands and France frankly has never gone away and I think now we have simultaneous outbreaks of the disease and in Denmark it now looks to be wholly irreversible. In my own country, despite decades of our political establishment denying its existence, a recent opinion poll showed that sufferers may now be actually in a majority. What surprised me about your speech, as a Dutch Prime Minister, is that you didn't mention the fact that 427,000 of your own citizens have outed themselves in public, declared themselves to be carriers, called a referendum for the 6th of April and encouraged the rest of the country to join in. I suppose it must be embarrassing for you, the diagnosis by the way will not be popular in house, the disease is called democracy and people want to have a say on their future.
Mr Juncker here, says that 'there will be a continental crisis if the Dutch vote no', well I'll drink to that is all I can say. When you add to that Schengen, when you add to that people's utter revulsion at what happened in Cologne I think that you are going to have a very, very hot time over the course of the next six months. Whether the peoples of Europe can break this union between now and the end of June, I don't know; but I tell you what, we're going to have a damn good go. "