At the moment there is a cherry picking debate going on in British politics, about which parts of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU should be kept after Brexit. Theresa May is hoping for a transition period of around two years for the UK to remain in the EU’s customs union and single market after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, while some Brexiteer Tories in her cabinet want the UK to be completely outside of the EU before then.
On the other hand Jeremy Corbyn would like the UK to remain in the EU’s customs union to ensure free trade with Europe, which would benefit British industry after the UK has left the EU. One of Jeremy Corbyn’s colleagues in the Labour Party, Barry Gardiner, who is Shadow International Trade Secretary was quoted in The Independent as saying, “Labour cannot support single market membership because it would dishonour Brexit vote”.
Even if the UK remained in the EU’s customs union and single market, the British people would no longer be able to send elected representatives to the European Parliament, unless the UK retained its full membership of the EU. The loss of access to the European Parliament for British people would be worse than the loss of a trading relationship with Europe, because sending elected MEPs to the European Parliament represents a cultural and political link with Europe as a whole, as well as giving UK representatives a say in Europe’s economic policies.
If a MEP representing a UK constituency is doing his or her job properly, then that representative should be helping constituents in the UK to connect with those living in other EU member states, in order to support the common interests of EU citizens, which will shape the direction of Europe in the future. This could be done by creating better transport links across the English Channel and North Sea, and for the UK to join the Schengen area. This would help to remind the British that they are also both Europeans and EU citizens. But first of all Brexit must be cancelled.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018