Richard Corbett: Brexit extension will allow British people to ‘see through the lies’

Written by Martin Banks on 16 April 2019 in News
News

UK Socialist MEP Richard Corbett has told Parliament that the extension granted to the UK on its EU exit will give the British people a chance to “see through the lies about Brexit.”

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Speaking in the plenary on Tuesday, the veteran deputy said, “The British were told that Brexit would be easy. But it’s proving very difficult. They were told there would be £350m more funding for the NHS but this has not happened. People in the UK people are starting to see through this.”

On the current discussions taking place between UK Prime MinisterTheresa May and UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Corbett said, “I have no great hopes for these talks but the Brexit extension must be used to go back to the people and end this damned mess we’ve got ourselves into.”

Turning to the European elections in May and, addressing Eurosceptic members including UKIP MEPs in the chamber, he said, “The majority of MEPs being returned next month will not be of their ilk.”


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His remarks were partly aimed at Nigel Farage, who predicted that his new Brexit party would be successful in the elections, adding that he “will sweep the board” leading to a “peaceful, political revolution.”

On Brexit, Farage said, “I have been to dozens of EU summits and there is one golden rule: the might and power of Brussels always wins. But I have never been to a summit like last week where the UK Prime Minister begged for an extension to Article 50. It was humiliating.”

“Mrs May promised we would leave on 29 March, then she told us it might be 12 April, then it would be definitely by the end of June. We are now told it will be by Halloween. Is this a Halloween trick or treat? Make your own minds up,” he added.

Ulster Unionist MEP James Nicholson, making his last speech in Parliament after 30 years, said the extension was merely “kicking the can down the road.”

“The British were told that Brexit would be easy. But it’s proving very difficult. They were told there would be £350m more funding for the NHS but this has not happened. People in the UK people are starting to see through this” Richard Corbett MEP

He added, “We still need to address the real problem: the Irish backstop which has haunted these talks since the start.”

Conservative Syed Kamall, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, urged Westminster to reach a Brexit deal in time to avoid having to participate in next month's European elections, stating: "The time has come for pragmatism. Let's just get it done."

He said last week's further extension of Article 50 until October 31 was not something many people on either side of the Channel wanted, but added, "It does give us more time to pursue all options in search of a breakthrough.”

“I sincerely hope that my colleagues in Westminster do not take too long. Our economy, our politics and our country need certainty and we must aim for a solution in time to avoid having to participate in the European elections.”

Among those speaking in a debate on the latest Brexit developments, Kamall said, "We have to deal with life as it is. The British Government is still committed to delivering Brexit in an orderly way and leaving the EU as soon as possible so that people in the UK and the EU can focus on the future."

He told MEPs that EU membership had been a divisive issue in Britain for many years and those divisions were now playing out across the party divide.

He recognised that the patience of many in Europe was wearing thin but concluded: "As a country, the UK has been in difficult positions before and we have a reputation for seeing things through. This time will be no different."

“It turns out that reports of our demise were greatly exaggerated. My party will take part in these elections and we are looking forward to them” Alyn Smith MEP

Scottish Nationalist member Alyn Smith said, “It turns out that reports of our demise were greatly exaggerated. My party will take part in these elections and we are looking forward to them.”

He warned that “populism is on the rise and a risk to all of us” and also urged the EU to send international observers to the UK to “make sure the elections are conducted properly.”

He said this was needed “because electoral law has been broken in the past and this could happen again.”

UK Independent deputy Julie Girling praised European Council President Donald Tusk for allowing an extension to Brexit, saying he now “has a cult status” and that his efforts to avoid a no-deal Brexit was “in sharp contrast to others.”

She told the half-empty chamber, “We should now use this chance to vote on 23 May to make the case for EU membership.”

Another UK member, Seb Dance, said the  “Brexit promised” at the time of the EU Referendum “is undeliverable” while Polish EPP member Danuta Hubner, a member of Parliament’s Brexit steering group, said, “The new deadline was a hard choice to make and now it is up to the British to use this time in a constructive way.”

“But Brexit is an absurd and sad process and those politicians who threaten to sabotage our work in this chamber will not win,” she added.

UKIP’s Gerard Batten predicted that in the elections Eurosceptic MEPs “will return in big numbers” in the elections and will press for an “end to austerity measures and mass uncontrolled immigration.”

As his party faced three MEP defections on Tuesday to Farage’s Brexit Party, he said, “There will be a great populist vote across Europe.”

Irish EPP member Sean Kelly said, “The uncertainty remains and people  are suffering. I hope May and Corbyn will reach a decision but that seems unlikely and if they do not we must postpone Brexit indefinitely.”

Greens member Molly Scott Cato said, “Well, it is Easter and we are still here and it is wonderful. We are grateful for the breathing space granted to us and we will take part in the European elections.”

“We will now mobilise our pro-European forces and we must resist the siren song of the far right with its politics of fear.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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