EU President Herman Van Rompuy called Clown by Sister Christine
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The Belgian politician poised to become president of Europe was last night dismissed as a clown.
Herman Van Rompuy faced a massive surge of opposition as other leaders began the task of rubber-stamping his elevation to the powerful new job of leading the entire European Union.
But the 62-year-old poetry-writing prime minister of Belgium suffered fresh embarrassment when it emerged that even his own sister had ridiculed him.
Christine Van Rompuy – a member of a rival political party – helped to produce a poster showing her brother posing as a clown during a recent election.
The image showed Mr Van Rompuy sporting a red nose and a clown’s hat.
Ms Van Rompuy, who admitted the picture had caused some tension between them, added: “We have not spoken since.”
Yet despite the ridicule, Mr Van Rompuy appeared certain to clinch the £250,000-a-year job after it was confirmed that his main rival, former prime minister Tony Blair, was out of the race.
An angry campaign against Mr Van Rompuy – a fanatical federalist who wants sweeping tax raising powers – was gaining support yesterday.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: “The list of famous Belgians will not be extended by his appointment. This is the man who will have more power than David Cameron or Gordon Brown and we are not given a say.
“All this proves one thing – the British people must have a referendum on whether we stay part of this union.”
And Labour MP Ian Davidson, a rare Eurosceptic on the Government benches, said: “I am appalled to hear that the apparent leading candidate has committed himself to Europe-wide taxation and is in favour of ever-closer union with Brussels.
“If we’d had a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty we would have been able to set Europe in a new direction, but it would appear this opportunity has been lost.”
Van Rompuy, a married father of three who was an economist and banker before starting a career in politics, is more famous in his own country for writing Japanese-style poems than any for political achievements.
He has frequently advocated turning Europe into a super-state, wants to abolish national symbols like flags and anthems, and is in favour of punitive tax-raising powers for the EU.
Even Belgians were yesterday applauding the Daily Express’s outspoken opposition to the bureaucrat’s rise.
Mick Willems contacted the newspaper to say: “Mr Van Rompuy is a nobody who hasn’t done anything since as prime minister – not that anyone knows of, at least.
“The Belgian people want to get rid of him, but we fear an even bigger idiot is going to take the seat of premier.”