The European parliament is in session and a new president is on the way, but for a select group of Britain’s MEPs (primarily the SNP and Lib Dem representatives), it’s business as usual, which in these times means: “Stop Brexit, of course.”
That is certainly the objective of Shelia Ritchie (LD), who is fighting alongside SNP MEP Alieen McLeod to put the Brexit genie back in the bottle.
McLeod, with her supposed few months in the job, wishes to demonstrate, “the positive contribution Scotland can make working together with our EU partners,” on shared global problems such as climate change.
Britain’s new Prime Minister pledged to renegotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU; although its leadership has repeatedly ruled out returning to the table. But with new faces soon assuming the responsibility of Brexit, should both parties resume the back and forth which has gridlocked British politics.
A change of personnel within the EU would not make “an enormous amount of difference” Ritchie said, but added: “I hope Europe will request an extension of us.” Boris Johnson has however promised Brexit by Halloween, do or damned.
McLeod praised the outgoing president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, as he “went out of his way to say that the UK can change its mind until the 31 October.” She however criticised the UK government, arguing that the extension has been “frittered away on yet another intra-Conservative Party issue.”
McLeod stayed firm on the party line, believing that the best option now for the UK would be to revoke article 50:
“There is nothing in the pipeline that will give the citizens of Scotland – and indeed, the UK – a better quality of life than we have now.”
MEP’s recently voted on who they wish to succeed politicians like Jean Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk at a senior level in the European Union through a complicated spitzenkandidat system.
McLeod described the process as having “the best of intentions at heart” but said that as a member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, she looked forward to “discussions about reforming the EU.”
“Too often the European Parliament is depicted as remote and inaccessible, when it should be seen as approachable and responsive,” she added.
Ritchie described the system used to select the next President of the European Commission as “pretty flawed.”
Ritchie explains: “Along comes a head of government, who dictates to the Council that that outcome is not acceptable to him, and the deal crashes,” which results in, “a new President elect, who a mere 18 hours earlier had not dreamt of such a thing”.
When pressed for a solution or a fix, Ritchie said “I really don’t know” describing the amount of deals she has seen as “astonishing” but added that in her view: “It makes for interesting compromise and a much politer discourse.”
Feature image credit:European Parliament