Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL BRANNEN

AS the triggering of Article 50 has now become a reality, I'm slowly coming to terms with becoming a political dodo.

In around two years time the species known as 'the UK MEP' will cease to exist. Hopefully none of us will end up as exhibits in the Natural History Museum, although I know a few people who would be pleased to see Nigel Farage stuffed.

So observe us while you can and in the future you will be able to tell your grandchildren, "I once saw a British MEP. Interesting creatures, they migrated every week across the Channel to Brussels or Strasbourg, then returned just before the weekend".

I've also been able to migrate further afield. One of the most interesting fact finding trips I've been on was to Romania with my fellow socialist members of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee.

In a packed two-day visit, we saw how farming and forestry practices are making progress since the country has moved on from a Communist dictatorship, to fully fledged EU Member State.

Whilst there we unexpectedly found ourselves staying in Ceausescu's former country retreat. It had originally been built as a hunting lodge for the King of Romania but the communist dictator had taken it over, extended it, and added many opulent and extravagant touches. So my room was a bit more like Alnwick Castle than the Quayside's Premier Inn.

The following morning I asked the official who ran the now government residence: "Who was the last person to stay in my room?" "I'm afraid I cannot tell you that", she said with a smile, "But it is a matter of public record that the last state visit to Romania was made by President Obama".

While there have been many interesting and enjoyable times over the last three years of being an MEP, such as this trip to Romania, it is all now over ridden by the savage and depressing reality of the process of leaving.

Last week in Strasbourg the Parliament spent three hours debating its position re the Brexit negotiations.

Repeatedly during the debate concerns were raised about the peace process in Northern Ireland and the rising tensions over Gibraltar.

When the vote came the European Parliament voted decisively in favour of a fairly robust position. …

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