The politicisation of EU cultural policies

In this video, Claire talks about a meeting she recently attended that was supposed to be holding to account the proposed EU Commissioner for Innovation and Youth, Mariya Gabriel. The meeting was a joint one between two European Parliament committees, the Culture and Education committee and the Industry, Research and Energy committee.

Claire explains her frustrations with the process. First, that the EU only seems to be interested in arts and culture where it promotes European citizenship and federalism. Second, that rather than holding Gabriel to account, or at least having an honest debate about the issues facing arts and culture today, it was really an exercise in asking for more money for all that pro-federalist cultural spending.

This is the first video on a new YouTube channel, The Leftie Brexiteers, that Claire will be sharing with her NW England MEP colleague, Henrik Overgaard-Neilsen. You can check out the rest of the content and subscribe here.

BBC Woman’s Hour on Brexit

Claire discussed Brexit with Jane Garvey, making the point that the central issue was democracy, rather than whether the economy might or might not suffer as a result of leaving the EU. She criticised the idea that Leavers didn’t know what they were voting for and stressed the importance of honouring the referendum result.

She was delighted to receive messages of support from listeners afterwards.

Hi Claire, it was really great to hear you talking on the Brexit subject on Woman’s Hour today… We just never hear enough sensible, balanced perspectives such as yours and see how Jane hectored you for it. People only every talk about the short-term costs of Brexit, never the risk of long term being part of the EU. I could go on and on… and I voted to remain in the end… it was a difficult choice, and I think partly in the end I was frightened by leaving, but my heart is definitely with a sovereign UK, and I am very concerned about how this democratic collapse has played out. It’s one person, one vote. If you have a referendum, you have to deliver the result.
Dr Alan Smith, Norfolk

Dear Claire, I have just listened to your interview with Jane Garvey on Woman’s Hour. Rather than just shout at the radio, I am writing to thank you for pointing out that Brexit is to many of us who voted for it primarily an issue of democracy and accountability and not economics. I couldn’t agree more, and one of the interviewees who preceded you made exactly that point. Best regards,
Kay, London

Listen to the full item, including the interview, here:

Inside the rotten heart of the EU

Claire has written for UnHerd about her experiences in the European Parliament, looking in particular at the far-from-democratic process of choosing the European Commission.

She writes:

While the UK Parliament was being prorogued, the European Union this week officially announced a troupe of new executive appointees to oversee us all. Appointed via the offices of the incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, these eight vice-presidents are responsible for implementing the president-elect’s policy priorities, and have a huge impact on the lives of millions. And none of them can do a thing about it.

Apparently, I – as an MEP – get a say on whether to endorse them, but it’s not exactly a free and fair election. There is no actual choice, for a start, just a chance to reject or query a pre-ordained list. With Britain not putting anyone forward (as we’re – allegedly – preparing to leave on October 31) and Germany denied choosing one as they already have Mrs von der Leyen, there are 26 new commissioners, each nominated by member states, and given their jobs based on “a series of formal interviews” by the president-elect. The powers that be will present them to Parliament as a dream team ticket, and we are expected to rubber stamp them before 1 November.

So, who are these people who will hold sway over the lives of so many Europeans for the next five years? It’s a rather mixed bag. Much has been made of the fact that the line-up features 13 women, making it the “most gender-balanced Commission in EU history”. I am not a supporter of identity politics, but when Ms Von der Leyen boasts that the new Commission cabinet is “as diverse as Europe is”, one is tempted to point out that they are all white. Unless you count the Belgian nominee Didier Reynders, who in 2015 was accused of racism after he dressed up in blackface for a charity event in Brussels.

The newly-appointed Justice Commissioner (whose role involves ensuring compliance with the rule of law) insisted it was a harmless tradition. Fair enough, but after listening to endless speeches at the European Parliament achingly flaunting their anti-racists credentials, and calling for legal sanctions against hate speech, this hypocrisy is hard to take.

Perhaps he is a quality politician and is worth the grief? Perhaps, except that he recently failed to become President of the Council of Europe and was passed over for the Commission in 2014, making it third time lucky for a seat on the gravy train. But then he does have solid credentials, having previously worked in the Belgium government under its then Prime Minister, the anti-Brexit, friend-of-the-Lib-Dems  Guy Verhofstadt.

Read the whole article here.

Claire on BBC Politics Live

Claire joined a panel including columnist and author Steve Richards, Sebastian Payne of the FT and Labour Against Private Schools organiser Holly Rigby to discuss the latest developments on Brexit. Claire expressed her frustration that despite the opposition parties demanding a general election for many months, they had decided to block an election now.