East Midlands MEP Rupert Matthews gave attendees at the Rutland Biz Club’s Christmas lunch some serious food for thought with his views on Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations on Friday 14 December.
He told attendees at the lunch held at the Falcon Hotel in Uppingham, that the view on the European Union from over the Channel is a seen from a very different perspective from that held by most British voters. You are either for it, or against it.
He claimed that everyone in Brussels and the EU Parliament believes that a single federated super-state is the best possible future for the people of Europe. He said: “They believe the super-state they are building will bring prosperity and peace and guarantee the brotherhood of nations. Anyone who doesn’t agree means they are a fascist and want to start a war.”
He believes the aim of the UK’s negotiating team led by Theresa May, to stay close to the EU by remaining in the Single Market and some kind of customs union, has caused friction. He said: “The EU’s attitude that you are either a member or not, means that if you want access to the Single Market and Customs Union you have to have everything that goes with membership including the Common Fisheries Policy. It allows the Spanish and French access to our fishing waters which we don’t want. The EU explained the situation clearly last year, and May chose to ignore it.”
Rupert also believes different parliamentary systems cause misunderstandings that are stalling negotiations. Britain’s first past the post system sees local people involved in the selection of their MP who champions their views in Parliament. A system of Proportional Representation in Europe sees candidates and MEPs selected for their party by that party’s leader or national executive and local members have no say at all.
He said: “This has had an important effect on Theresa May’s negotiations as any agreement between a European government and the EU will go ahead if the country’s prime minister agrees the deal. It is inconceivable on the Continent that a parliament would not ratify an agreement agreed by a Prime Minster. So, it’s a massive shock to the EU that Theresa May agreed a deal with Brussels but can’t get it through the House of Commons. That’s why the deal on the table leaves the door open for Britain to re-join the EU down the line with no free trade deals to cause a problem.”
Biz Club President Geoffrey Pointon thanked Rupert for his political insights from a European viewpoint. “Rupert’s experience in the European Parliament has provided a fascinating talk that has opened up a new perspective on the Brexit negotiations. Biz Club attendees have enjoyed a wide-ranging variety of speakers this year providing new areas of thought-provoking discussion that look set to continue in 2019.”
The Biz Club meets on the third Friday of each month for a lunch at The Falcon Hotel in Uppingham, with a visiting speaker to encourage enterprise and stimulate dialogue between politicians and business people.