My first week as an MEP – there’s lots of work to be done in the 21 months before Brexit

My first week as an MEP – there’s lots of work to be done in the 21 months before Brexit

It is not often that you arrive for your first day in a new job in the sure and certain hope of the redundancy to come. But so it was for me on Monday when I took up my position as a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands. I replaced Andrew Lewer MBE, who was elected to Westminster at the recent General Election.

Having been Campaign Manager for Better Off Out during the years running up to the EU referendum, I am keen not only for Britain to exit the European Union, but for this to be achieved on the best possible terms. That’s going to involve a good deal of tough negotiations on the part of David Davis and his team. Having some Brexiteer MEPs on hand is going to help. But let’s face it, there are precious few of us around.

The overwhelming feeling of those MEPs from elsewhere on the continent I have spoken to so far is a mixture of sorrow and bafflement. Why would any country want to leave an organisation as wonderful as the European Union, they wonder? While they can’t quite understand why we want to take back control and stand on our own two feet, they respect us for doing so. They want to see Britain as a friendly, prosperous neighbour.

But not all MEPs take this view. There are a few who want Britain to fail, to see us reduced to penury and abject humiliation. They fear that if we make a success of Brexit, as I believe we will, then others may follow us out of the exit door and leave the European Union. They want to impose a punishment beating on Britain, to inflict the harshest possible conditions on the Brexit deal. They despair of the Commission and the governments of the member states who actually care about trade with the UK and want to protect the jobs of people in the 27 Member States that will be left after Brexit. They will accept damage to the EU as a price worth paying to crush Britain.

Meanwhile, there is still a surprising amount of work to do here at the European Parliament. Britain has not yet left the European Union, so the good people of the East Midlands who I have the honour to represent are still subject to the laws that are proposed, debated and passed in the Brussels Behemoth.

On the agenda for this week alone we had such gems as: Towards a pan-European covered bonds market, Limitation periods for traffic accidents and the slightly more ominous-sounding “EU Defence Plan and the future of Europe”.

Not only does all this affect us now, but since we do not know how the Brexit negotiations will go, we cannot be certain to what extent the new EU laws might impact us in the future. Businesses exporting to the EU will not thank us for allowing burdensome regulations to pass.

There is much to be done before Britain escapes the Brussels Behemoth, and only 21 months in which to do it.