Few open reactions have been noticed in Belgium or Britain on the visit of Bart De Wever at Downing Street n°10. The Flemish nationalist leader was received by prime minister David Cameron with a delegation of his party for forty minutes on Thursday evening.
The news was broken by two Belgian newspapers and the radio on Friday morning. The British press, nor the press service of the prime minister have mentioned anything about it up to now.
De Wever and three key persons of his party, the Flemish nationalist NVA, had been received on Thursday evening by David Cameron. The prime minister spoke with De Wever in the Cabinet Room of Downing Street, before introducing him and his three colleagues to a reception of Tory representatives. Before the visit to the prime minister the NVA-delegation had received a personal tour of the House of Commons by the Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris, and had tea with him in the House of Lords.
Both Cameron and Heaton-Harris said that they see the NVA as a potential ally on the European scene. They signalled that the British Tories and the Flemish nationalist party share the same visions on a lot of political issues.
Since they have left the European Peoples Party in the European Parliament, the British Conservatives have a group on their own with a few allies in Poland, the Czech Republic and Belgium. The problem with the EPP, according to Heaton-Harris, is ‘the dominance of the Germans’.
The NVA, has now only one MEP, but could have at least three in 2014 if it keeps up its electoral score of 2010. It belongs now to the European Free Alliance that is in a combined group with the Greens. It seems that Derk-Jan Eppink, a Belgian MEP of Dutch origin who belongs to the same group as the British Conservatives, made the first contacts for the meeting between Cameron and De Wever.
Bart De Wever afterwards declared that he had said to Cameron that he was jealous on the British ‘as they are capable of forming a coalition government in nine days’. Towards the Belgian public opinion he said that ‘those who had their doubts on the NVA as a valuable and reasonable partner should now put their assumptions into revision’
The news inevitably created some bitter reactions, especially in francophone Belgium. ‘It seems the British Tories have completely swept the fact under the carpet that the NVA is an outspoken separatist party that in the past has also supported the Scottish nationalists’, wrote the Libre Belgique. It also remarked that the present prime minister of Belgium, Yves Leterme, has not been received in Downing Street yet.
Some question now if Britain, that played a decisive role in the creation of Belgium in 1830, has not given a small support in unrolling the red carpet towards an independent Flanders?Or should we just forget about geostrategic thoughts, and only conclude that the Tories always have been and still are the British nationalist party par excellence?