The ‘Union Jack issue’ and my time as an MEP

In a final blog post as an MEP for UK in a Changing Europe, Claire discussed her changing attitude to the Union Jack – and the hatred of nationalism and nationalist symbols within the EU.

“I am not your average Union Jack waver: raised in Wales, second generation Irish, politically anti-imperialist. It has taken some doing, but it has been the EU that has taught me that the flag is a symbol of something worth defending.”

She goes on to note: “Two French MEPs seemed startled that my commitment to national sovereignty does not centre on love of country at the expense of other countries, but rather is due to my belief in the nation as the site of democracy. I talked about the historic progressive aspiration to create democratic nation states as political communities, that allowed citizens within a geographically-bordered area to determine decision-making.

“Ironically, I was drawing on French philosophers such as Rousseau, for whom a democratic nation state was the best vehicle for guaranteeing the rights of a citizens. Popular sovereignty, via national self-determination was seen as the most effective way of allowing citizens autonomy and equality.”

Read the full article here.

The Article 7 witch-hunt against Hungary

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 January, Claire spoke on the parliament’s debate on whether to penalise Hungary under the rules of Article 7. She began by paying tribute to Roger Scruton, who recently passed, praising his courage in assisting Eastern Europe in their struggle against authoritarian communism. Claire said that these nations having only recently fought for their sovereignty were once again under threat by the EU, whose actions were beginning to mirror those of USSR.

RTÉ – Brexit Republic extra episode with Claire Fox

During Claire’s recent trip to Dublin, Claire joined Colm Ó Mongáin for an extra episode of the Brexit Republic podcast. She spoke about how legislation from the EU represents less a foreign imposition, but more the political elites implementing policy whilst bypassing the scrutiny of their own parliament and nation.

Claire praised the energy of the referendum and that fact that it had initiated serious political debate on constitutional issues such as abolishing the House of Lords.

Listen to the podcast here or using the embedded player below.

Explanation of vote – Conference on the Future of Europe

At the Strasbourg parliament, 16th January, Claire explained her decision to abstain on the motion on the Conference on the Future of Europe. She explained that as the director of the Academy of Ideas, she has always sought to champion public debate and civil engagement in politics. However, the motion sought to use citizen participation as a superficial mechanism that would lend the appearance of greater engagement whilst retaining the same top down bureaucratic system.

Explanation of vote – Article 7(1) proceedings against Hungary and Poland

During the explanation of her vote at Strasbourg, 16th January, Claire explained her decision to vote against the Parliament’s Article 7 proceedings against Hungary and Poland. She rejected the motion as a bullying weapon in defiance of the Polish and Hungarian voters, condemning the parliament for themselves failing to live up to European values, particularly respect for democracy, whilst having the hypocrisy to accuse those upholding democracy as betraying European values.

Explanation of vote: citizen rights settlement the unfair burden on the UK government

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 January, Claire spoke about the EU-UK arrangements on citizens’ rights. Although she welcomed the fact that both sides had reached am amicable arrangement that protects all citizens, she opted to vote against it. Claire explained that the decision to include an article on EU citizens self-declaring their status in the UK would unfairly put the burden of proof on the UK government.

Future of Europe: the EU needs to listen to its citizens

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 January, Claire commented on the EU Future of Europe initiative to develop the policy goals of the next legislature. She criticised the use of faux-democratic citizen assemblies, arguing that these were self-serving gimmicks and that if the EU was truly interested in the opinions of its citizens it should actually listen to them rather than orchestrating clever ways to hear what they want.

Reflections on the final Strasbourg session: thank god we are leaving!

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 14 January, Claire reflects on her final Strasbourg session and the fact that there is now acceptance among European MEPs that we will indeed be leaving. She spoke about the end of mandate meeting and the hostile atmosphere between UK MEPs at the meeting, as well as the parliament’s bizarre but clearly hostile decision to ban national flags inside the plenary chamber.

Housing first and homelessness: ‘one size fits all’ approaches will not work

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 13 January, Claire expressed her concerns at the parliament’s approach to homelessness, despite seeing merit to the ‘housing first’ approach. She argued that this ‘one size fits all’ approach neglected many of the root causes of sleeping rough. Claire mentioned Eurozone austerity as a factor that has exacerbated the problem along with freedom of movement, noting that continental Europeans account for one third of London’s homeless.

Institute of International and European Affairs: Demystifying Brexit

Claire spoke to the IIEA in Dublin on 9 January, on the topic ‘Identifying the Sovereign Origins of Britain’s Withdrawal’. Claire argues that both inside and outside the UK, Brexit has been predominantly framed as a reactionary backlash, a rejection of the progressive values that many associate with the EU. In her address, she states that, despite immigration being an influential factor, the decision to leave the European Union was deeply rooted in a historical commitment to the sovereignty of the people, and a firm belief that politicians should not be able to ‘outsource accountability’.