Richard North, 15/02/2014  

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We evidently touched a nerve with our work on the EU's responsibility for the Somerset floods.

Ten days following publication, after Booker has spread the message in his column and then in the Spectator, it having already raced around the internet, European President Barroso picked it up in a speech to the LSE yesterday, denying responsibility for the floods.

Referring to the "persistence of some of the doomsayers within Europe", he complained that, "just last week Brussels was blamed for the devastating floods here in the south of England".

This, Barroso said, "was an interesting caricature. But it is just that – a caricature", then denying that floods had "anything to do with European regulations or responsibilities at all".

Having missed the story completely, the Press Association then issued a report, picked up by multiple local newspapers, Huff Post and ITV News, linking Barroso's intervention with Farage's belated comments when he visited Somerset. The Daily Mail also runs the story, but omitting the link with Barroso.

What is remarkable though is the facility with which Barroso so easily denies any EU involvement, despite a whole raft of laws affecting the water environment, including the Floods Directive.

Elsewhere in his speech, he complains about still seeing "the temptation to Europeanise failure and nationalise successes" yet here he is, driving an EU failure and dumping the responsibility for the outcome on the member state. He is doing exactly the same thing, of which he accuses the members.

But the very fact that no less a person than the European Commission president feels it necessary to issue a rebuttal suggests that they are worried. And they have every reason to be. When even Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph gets the message, the case is far too strong for it to be dismissed so easily.

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