British MEPs say “bye, bye, Brussels"

With the UK leaving the Europe Union at midnight on Friday, the 73 British MEPs are doing their last work at the European Parliament. For some of them, such as the MEPs from the Brexit Party, the UK’s exit from the EU is a reason for celebration. However, for others their country’s leaving the European Union is a time for sadness and regret. The Green Party MEP Ellie Chows is one such politician. She is sad to be leaving the European Parliament, but intends to take what she has learned while representing British voters in Brussels and Strasbourg with back with her to the UK.      

Ellie Chowns (photo above) spoke to Katrien Vanderschoot of our Brexit team.

Ellie Chowns was only elected as an MEP by voters in the West Midlands European Parliamentary Constituency last May. The Green MEP has been in Brussels for just 7 months and as such is a relative novice at the European Parliament. Nevertheless, she says that she will cherish the time that she has spent here and her cooperation with Green MEPs from other EU countries and the other pro-EU MEP’s from the UK. The European Green Deal is one example that Ellie Chowns says is something that an individual member state could never have put together. The green MEP is disappointed to be leaving and to have to say farewell to her colleagues and the staff at the European Green Group.   

“The United Kingdom has not only chosen a scenario that will have bad economic and social consequences for our country, but we are also turning our back on positivism and that is arrogant”.   

She regrets that the UK’s Conservative government is choosing a race to the bottom rather than gradual route to the top.

Nevertheless, Ellie Chowns won’t be returning home with her head down. She still has work to do. She will return to her job as a lecturer at Birmingham University and will be active in her constituency in Herefordshire, near to England’s border with Wales. As a local councillor she will try and make voters and decision makers aware of the issues posed by climate change. At a national level she will campaign to get the UK’s first past the post electoral system changed as in her view it is undemocratic.     

“It is cynical that the Brexiteers in the European Parliament say that Europe is undemocratic, while in fact everything is undemocratic in the UK”.  

Ellie Chowns cites a number of elements to back up her claim. For example, the suspension of parliament by Prime Minister Johnson in the autumn of last year. “Simply and only to get his Brexit plan through”. The unelected House of Lords and the first past the post electoral system that means that a party gets huge majorities despite falling well short of gaining a majority of votes are two other issues raised by the Green MEP. 

“Negative message sells better”

Ellie Chowns believes that the pro-Brexit lobby won the 2016 referendum because “a negative message is easier to sell than a cautiously positive story, especially when you campaign using shady financing hate messages spread on social media. Europe was the scape goat and the campaigner handily played the identity card”.  

Friday is not the end of the Brexit story though, but rather just the start of a new chapter. Ellie Chowns is convinced that the UK government and the EU won’t have reached a trade agreement by the end of the year. However, “We can’t give up even though we're are currently on the mat. We must continue to fight to maintain as many quality norms and as much social protection in our country as possible and to make international agreements that strive towards our fundamental values”.    

Ellie Chowns says that if there is one thing that she will take back with her from her time in the European Parliament it is the way of conducting politics there. This is devoid of the macho behaviour often on display in the UK parliament and is far more shaped towards compromise. The Green MEP says that she intends to practice this different way of doing politics back home in the UK.