“A small window of opportunity”

Written by Martin Banks on 6 September 2019 in News

They may not be here much longer, but for now, British MEPs still have a role to play in the European Parliament.

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

Labour’s Theresa Griffin’s “absolute priority” is declaring an EU-wide “climate emergency”. She says, “the number of environmental refugees is expected to increase to 200 million people by 2050. We urgently need efficient and long-lasting solutions for those countries most at risk and for the future of our children.”

“The new Commission must be held to account and deliver on workers’ rights, equality, clean energy, the Paris climate targets, job creation, gender equality, human rights and fighting poverty.”

“For this mandate, I want to see a social Europe that places human rights, gender equality, properly-funded public services and opportunity for all at the heart of all trade deals. I want to see a Europe that places people at the heart of all legislation - especially the most vulnerable in society.”

Party colleague Neena Gill says, “I am heartened that we have a pro-European majority and also a strong sense that the Parliament needs to be united.”


“Of course, there is now a greater fragmentation of the house. That will create difficulties in responding to the more extremist challenges.”

“In one of the first debates in this legislature, on the fight for human rights in Hong Kong, you could see a very confrontational debate, with extremists turning the debate into a tirade against the EU.”

“My greatest concern, of course, is about Brexit and its consequences both for the UK and the global economy, but more importantly the impact on European citizens.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies says, “Time is short and the legislative process long. Every MEP should bring with them a sense of urgency and a determination to get things done and make a difference for the better.”

“And, as a British MEP I want to remain in Parliament for five years and maybe more. If an extension is requested, I ask the Council to give us near-unlimited time to resolve the issue amongst ourselves.”

“I want the UK to be leaders in Europe, not leavers; Brexiteers are cowards running away from Europe’s problems.”

“I want to see a social Europe that places human rights, gender equality, properly funded public services and opportunity for all at the heart of all trade deals” Theresa Griffin MEP 

Brexit Party MEP June Mummery is a fishing industry campaigner. “My biggest fear for the new mandate is a betrayal of the industry during the EU exit negotiations.”

“I know the Fisheries (PECH) Committee is looking, at minimum, to maintain the status quo of “equal access” in the post- Brexit era. Meanwhile, UK fishers are justly determined to reclaim the 60-70 percent of fishing opportunities currently used by EU vessels in British waters.”

“It breaks my heart to think this dedicated, historic industry could once more be betrayed at the hands of politicians.”

Scottish Nationalist Party MEP Alyn Smith is unequivocal; “My instruction from the people of Scotland is to stop Brexit and to represent our interests in all discussions underway about how better to make the Member States of the EU work together towards common goals.”

“That’s it, all else is secondary. If I can’t stop England from this misguided act of self-harm, then I’m preparing the ground for Scotland’s independence and our accession as a new Member State.”

Labour’s Rory Palmer says, “Clearly, my number one hope is that the UK’s MEPs can serve our full mandate here and that we avoid a catastrophic No Deal Brexit.”

“My fear is that we may not see the required transformative, exciting vision for EU reform. Ursula von der Leyen must deliver on the pledges she has made to the political groups, especially the S&D group.”

“I remain sceptical and want to hear more ambition and detail in areas like institutional reform and to defending and upholding the rule of law.”

“The agenda has moved on from and now o­ften ignores Brexit. This is understandable; the EU has its own important priorities” Claude Moraes MEP

Socialist colleague Claude Moraes notes, “I want to see the EU, and particularly the progressive forces in Parliament, make a fast start on the issues that will affect all of us and might make or break the EU itself, particularly preventing right-wing groups from diluting the commitment to a new rule of law mechanism and a decent settlement on the migration crisis.”

“I was grateful that my group elected a Brit as vice-president, but I can see how the agenda has moved on from and now often ignores Brexit. This is understandable; the EU has its own important priorities.”

“My fear as a UK MEP is that populists who did less well than expected in the elections are being allowed to shout louder.”

“Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings will trial a UK style of populism, risking bringing us to the brink of a no-deal Brexit.”

Greens MEP Molly Scott Cato plans to be in Brussels for the full five-year mandate. “Since I was elect elected on a platform of stopping Brexit, I will be doing everything in my power to make sure we stay at the heart of Europe.”

She adds, “I don’t want my country or my constituents excluded from the exciting opportunities offered by the sustainability transition that the EU will prioritise over the next five years.”

Tory MEP Geoffrey Van Orden’s “overwhelming hope” is that the Council “will show the flexibility and goodwill that has so far been lacking in the Brexit negotiations and instruct the Commission to find practical solutions to the well-founded British objections to the Withdrawal Agreement.”

“This may provide a positive basis for the future relationship. My concern is that this opportunity will be lost as the EU, under French leadership, seeks to accelerate political integration of the continent.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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