Yesterday I was invited to a meeting in Brussels of MPs from the House of Commons EU Exiting Committee, chaired by Hilary Benn MP. The meeting was scheduled to last only 45 minutes, and one UK MEP from each political party was invited to speak to them.
The meeting was late in starting because the Committee was delayed in its prior meeting with Commissioner Michel Barnier. When we did eventually meet the meeting was brief. The MPs and the MEPs introduced themselves.
Mr Benn then asked each MEP to give their view of the negotiations so far. I agreed with my Green Party colleague who said they were “disastrous” but from there on we parted company.
I explained that they were a disaster because the EU did not want to negotiate a ‘good deal’. I briefly explained that if we really wanted to leave we should repeal the European Communities Act (1972) as a first step, and then tell the EU how the new arrangements were going to work.
Mr Benn had previously told us that Guy Verhofstadt MEP would be joining the meeting. Mr Verhofstadt has been appointed as the Parliament’s representative in the negotiations. He was not voted into that position by his fellow MEPs, and representation on his Steering Committee has been denied to the ECR Group my EFDD Group because we did not support his Motion for a Resolution on the negotiations. Mr Benn seemed a little surprised at that.
At this point Mr Benn went outside to bring Mr Verhfotstadt in, but reappeared to say that Mr V refused to come in while his fellow MEPs were there. Mr Benn then had to ask us to leave, and he did seem a little embarrassed at having to do that.
But comments were made to the effect clearly demonstrated Mr V’s attitude showed what the British Government are up against. The EU is not keen on real democracy and will do everything it can to impeded and prevent the UK actually leaving the EU.
The question is, how many members of the Committee actually want to help the EU in doing that, and how many actually want Britain to leave the EU once and for all? Only time will tell.