“Boris Johnson is making encouraging sounds and adhering to his campaign promises” Rupert Lowe told this reporter. Since the end of January Lowe is an ex-Brexit Party (BxP) MEP, he is still on the BxP WhatsApp group and very active on Twitter.
Lowe believes the current purpose of the BxP is to ensure there is no extension of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill’s implementation period beyond the 31st December. He believes the government’s challenge is yet to come when the negotiations begin; if Johnson delivers then there is no necessity for the BxP.
The BxP was and still is a tremendous insurance policy, it sent a shock wave through the establishment when in 2019 the BxP won 29 out of 71 MEP’s in the European Parliament, a stunning achievement for a six-week old party.
Lowe believes that exiting on WTO rules remains a possibility, if the European Commission (EC) reject Johnson’s fishing legislation or demand an extension into 2021, the BxP believe that WTO rules are the best outcome for pure economic reasons. Lowe agrees with Lord Bamford-Chairman of JCB, they both voted for a clean unambiguous break with the EU, in the absence of a negotiated settlement both prefer to leave on WTO terms. Lowe cannot see why UK-EU existing terms cannot be continued, the UK has a £100Billion trade deficit with the EU, the UK buys more food and finished goods from the EU than the EU buys from the UK. He says “Usually the party with the deficit has the power! We are still paying in full until 31stDecember but we are no longer represented, logically we should be represented if we are subject to ECJ law but most of the British civil service are Remainers and were not negotiating in the interest of the British people. They viewed the EU as an economic experiment not a political experiment”.
Lowe reminds us that the EC’s Chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s stated position is to make Brexit difficult and punish the UK for leaving. The EC are fearful that Denmark and Italy are watching and might be next to leave if Britain flourishes post-Brexit. Lowe says “If the European Union is confident that it is secure, they should have no fear to give us an FTA. Just as communism tried to stop citizens watching television because it showed a better lifestyle, the EU do not want to show UK flourishing after Brexit.”
The UK is the EU’s second largest financial contributor next to Germany, Lowe is interested in the meeting scheduled for March about who is going to cover the shortfall left by the UK in the EU 2021 budget. Lowe posits whether the European Parliament will have to cut its cost base, it seems extravagant to have centres in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
Lowe says “We are Europeans, just as much after Brexit as we were before the Maastricht Treaty, taking back control is democratic, we (UK) do want what is in the interest of UK and of European citizens, and that is best achieved by helping each other not by punishment”.
The Brexit co-ordinator for EP, Guy Verhofstadt who has been a fierce critic of UK admitted that UKMEP’s would be missed for their wit, charm and stubbornness. Lowe made many friends amongst other MEP’s, he mentioned France’s Jérôme Rivière in particular, and the Italian Antonio Rinaldi’s speech during which he referred to Michel Barnier being too hard on UK, Rinaldi said even if Brits were disruptive other MEP’s enjoyed having them there.
Lowe narrates how at the end of January the EC ruled out of the blue that no national flags were allowed to be placed on MEP’s desks anymore. The irony of the un-elected EC dictating undemocratic procedure to the elected chamber was not lost on Lowe or the BxP.
When this reporter asked Lowe if he expected a peerage for Nigel Farage in the overdue Dissolution List, Lowe replied “I don’t think Nigel is interested in a peerage, he just wants his country’s sovereignty back.”