« France would vote to leave the EU if it held a referendum, the country’s most celebrated living philosopher has said, as he warned that Europe has become “sad, grey and technocratic.”
Bernard-Henri Lévy, who is respected on both sides of the French political divide as a writer and activist, said his fellow countrymen would “probably” abandon the EU if they were given the chance.
He also complained that Europe was being stifled by bureaucrats who have turned the continent into what he described as an intellectual wasteland with no space for “dreams and ideas.”
“If there was a referendum in France, they would probably vote to exit,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“One of the problems of Europe – which is the explanation for this populist reaction like a Brexit – is that this Europe is not desired any longer. And it does not create desire.”
“This is because the pattern it shows is so sad, so grey, so technical and so technocratic,” he said.
“And why is it as such? Because it does not make enough space for dreams and ideas and values, and so on. »
Mr Henri-Levy, who is known simply as “BHL” in France, has previously described Europe as “on the edge of being destroyed” and in a “state of emergency.”
And the 67-year-old said he feared that Europe would be brought even closer to collapse if Britain voted to leave the EU.
“My concern will be for both the people of the UK and of Europe,” he said, “I have read articles warning that it could cause a lot of unemployment, and that is a risk.”
He also said he worried that Britain might drift away from France if it left the EU, which has spurred him to join the Hexagon Society, an intellectual circle for thinkers from both countries run by entrepreneur Sophie Weisenfeld.
“At this time of Brexit, it is becoming one of the bridges between the UK and France, and therefore between the UK and Europe,” he said.
“We need to feed the link with disinterested discussions – by which I mean discussions not plugged into the concrete, everyday running of things. This is what Europe needs most today.”
In the same interview, Mr Levy lashed out at Jeremy Corbyn for failing to show any leadership during the referendum campaign.
“I am not all impressed by him…I dislike his absolute lack of concern for real internationalist values,” he said.
“It is so sad when I see an Englishman who is provincial and parochial. [There is] nothing left of the great openness of Labour.
« He is like Donald Trump, I often say he is destroying the GOP, the Grand Old Party. Corbyn is destroying the grand old Labour party. »
The party had “zero chance” of winning the 2020 general election unless it got rid of Mr Corbyn, he added.
“You need another great leader…Labour cannot have tiny leaders like that thinking one thing and then expressing another. It is undignified. »
Mr Levy, who takes a keen interest in the threat of Islamic terrorism, was speaking to promote his new film Peshmerga, a documentary about the Kurdish army fighting Isil in the Middle East. »