The Annual Edmund Burke Award was awarded to Bart de Wever at the Tate Britain on the 15th May.
The Edmund Burke award is the only prize of its kind: bestowed by elected representatives on one of their own. It is awarded to the politician or public figure who has done the most to advance conservative values. Last year’s winner was the former Australian prime minister, John Howard. This year’s is Bart de Wever: Mayor of Antwerp, leader of the N-VA; and according to some, the future Prime Minister of Belgium.
With over 200 guests, including cabinet ministers, journalists, and thought leaders from all over Europe, and beyond, the guestlist was impressive indeed. The atmosphere in the room was one of joviality and amusement, aided in no small measure by the speeches – Daniel Hannan showed some of his by now well documented wit, and Bart de Wever gave a particularly rousing speech about the future of Europe. Particularly touching was his admission that he fully understood why Britain voted Brexit. He called Britain a brave and proud nation – a level of compassion not exhibited by many politicians in Europe.
Bart de Wever, the special guest of the night and indeed a keen student of Burkeian philosophy, became leader of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) in 2004. He has since made it the most successful party, not only in Flanders, but in Belgium as a whole – an extraordinary achievement in a country that traditionally tended to the Left. In 2012, he became Mayor of Antwerp, after defeating the socialists that have been ruling the city for over 90 years. His was the leading keynote speech; with Michael Gove, Sir Roger Scruton, James Cleverly, and of course Daniel Hannan also sharing some of their unique insights into the European political system.
ACRE is very proud to have hosted such a successful Edmund Burke Award, for the third year in a row. There is already much speculation as to who will win this prestigious award next year. After all, as de Wever says in his speech, “The future of the EU is dependent on the sovereign decisions made by sovereign governments”. This is surely a golden opportunity for conservatives to seize the initiative in the upcoming year. To read Bart de Wever's full speech, please click here.
Additionally, please see here for more photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/aecr/sets/72157696922378415