A brief celebration, and then back to Brussels - but what's really changed?

I was greeted with a studious silence. We conducted the meeting as if absolutely nothing had changed after these elections at all.

Share

After a gruelling few months and a joyous few days of results, it was a quick glass of celebratory Merlot and then back on the Eurostar for me.

A big difference between Westminster and Brussels is that regardless of the success of one party in one country, it has to meet strict European Parliament requirements to get speaking time allocated, positions on committees, and funding for campaigns.

For a Eurosceptic group like Ukip it is much harder to do that than it is for the status-quo or federalist parties who just rejoin the huge groups they have been part of for years. They can then barter for cushy jobs as vice-presidents of the parliament, or committee chairmen, and boast that their dull, grey offices are a few square centimetres bigger than their political rivals.

But for those of us who are more concerned with representing the best interests of our constituents in the countries we come from, not supporting the Euro project means we have much more to disagree on, and we cause potential problems when arranging alliances.

One of the first post-election meetings which MEPs had was to discuss their recommendation for the next European Commission President. It might be the case that the barista in the local coffee shop would still have to ask the name of Jose Manuel Barroso when writing his name on the side of his take away low fat soya latte, but the position is one which holds immense, if unelected, power.

As a group leader I am part of the Conference of Presidents and this was where I was headed on Tuesday morning. Joining me was the Parliament President Martin Schultz in the chair, and the leaders of the Christian Democrats (until a few years ago home to the British Conservatives), the European Socialists, Alliance of European Liberals and the Greens. Also in attendance was Mr Guy Verhofstadt, former Prime Minister of Belgium, who always looks unimpressed when people tell him how well the Belgian economy did when the country had no government.

Mr Verhofstadt and Martin Schulz - a rather rotund, hairy-looking chap who has never hidden his dislike of having to be fair to people with different political opinions – are contenders for the top job. For Mr Schulz to get it is, to be frank, a terrifying prospect – and not just because he once got very upset when I waved some £20 notes at him during a debate on the failure of the euro.

I didn’t know how I was going to be greeted as I arrived, having rather put a spanner in the works of the federalists. But no one snarled at me. Mind you, no one said “Well done”, either. It was just a studious silence as my colleagues found how interesting their notepads and desk surfaces were. We conducted the meeting as if absolutely nothing had changed after these elections at all.

Because the Christian Democrats have come out the biggest in parliament we had a vote on the former Luxembourg president Jean-Claude Juncker as the Parliament’s proposed candidate. If Mr Junker is rejected by the Heads of State, the next choices on the list are also raging federalists in the shape of Schulz and Verhofstadt.

I said at the meeting, “Surely the time has come to choose someone different and to respond to the result of the European elections?” But I was met with a polite silence. It’s perfectly clear to me that despite these election results, nothing has changed in the EU and Mr Cameron’s negotiating position in the EU puts him in a minority of one.

Get it right please, lastminute.com

The advertisers at lastminute.com seem to have read my column last week in which I offered my European holiday tips. Amalgamating clips from interviews I’ve done, they’ve created an ad in which mine appears to be the voice of authority on the European destinations people should be heading for.

But I’m not sure lastminute has bothered to listen to much of what I have been saying outside “I love Europe”, because there isn’t a single mention of France or Italy in the Farage holiday recommendations that the ad features.

Instead they appear to have gone for Bulgaria and Romania. The former is quite good for skiing holidays, I understand, but I have been on two trips to Romania, and while I experienced some great hospitality from the Roma community, the division and poverty I witnessed made it somewhere I don’t wish to return to.

Perhaps I can also point out that while I know times are still not as good as they were before the entirely predictable credit crash, lastminute seems to have forgotten my appearance fee. I’d appreciate it if a cheque was made payable to the RNLI in Poole. After all, many people still holiday in the UK, particularly if they are keen anglers.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Special Needs Support Worker

£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Sewing Technician

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Lily-Rose Depp is not 'all grown up' - she is a 15 year old girl who should not be modelling for an adult fashion magazine

Harriet Williamson
 

If I were Prime Mininster: I would legislate for abortion on demand and abolish VAT on sanitary products

Caroline Criado-Perez
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence