Geoffrey Van Orden is actually an archetype of the British Conservative. His decades within the military earned him the rank of brigadier along with he carries a photo of himself along with the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hanging in his office. His voice is actually sonorous, his suit immaculate along with his shock of gray hair neatly parted. As Great Britain leaves the European Union on Jan. 31, Van Orden reflects on his more than 20 years as a member of the European Parliament along with why he voted for his country to remain within the bloc.
DER NewsGerman: Mr. Van Orden, you were the last Tory MP to make up their mind about how to vote within the Brexit referendum along with within the end, you voted Remain. Do you still consider yourself a Remainer?
Van Orden: No. I am perfectly content with the decision of the British people, which must along with will be respected. Besides, I had been a euroskeptic by the start, ever since I was first elected to the European Parliament 20 years ago. I wanted to change the United Kingdom’s relationship with Europe along with the direction the EU was taking. just one-minded push for ever closer political integration. I met Prime Minister David Cameron three times before the referendum along with implored him to get us a better deal by Brussels. Sadly, which did not happen.
DER NewsGerman: In February 2016, Britain secured several wide-ranging concessions by the EU. Mr. Cameron claimed he had achieved the best of both worlds.
Van Orden: There was no true appetite for change within the EU. One reason was which most people did not believe we might ever leave — not even UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Even after the referendum, many people expected a second one along with hoped Brexit might be cancelled. This specific was especially true of the European Parliament. People there only heard what they wanted to hear. which was an echo chamber of self-delusion. Also, we felt let down by Angela Merkel. In 2014, the chancellor came to London along with addressed the houses of parliament. She promised the EU might do anything to keep Britain inside. however within the end, she did nothing.
DER NewsGerman: Then why did you still vote Remain?
Van Orden: Mainly because of three things. First, I wanted to avoid economic uncertainty. Second, I was afraid of a loss of British influence along with didn’t want to abandon the continent to Paris along with Berlin. Third, I felt many of our citizens’ concerns were within the hands of our own government rather than Brussels. however each of these points can be addressed.
DER NewsGerman: which sounds like you expect bad things to happen currently which the British are leaving.
Van Orden: Well, I’m very confident about Britain’s future however I am not sure some remaining member states are going to feel comfortable in a closely integrated European state. along with some ideas are not wise at all.
DER NewsGerman: Such as?
Van Orden: For example, there is actually currently a push within the EU to introduce majority decisions within the areas of foreign policy along with defense, even taxation, which might strip individual countries of their power of veto. What might then be left of nation states’ sovereignty? The national parliaments might be no more than local council assemblies.
DER NewsGerman: along with yet, recent polls have revealed wide support for bundling member states’ competencies in areas like foreign along with security policy in order to raise the EU’s clout abroad.
Van Orden: Take another example: There is actually a lot of talk the EU should achieve strategic autonomy, for example. This specific is actually a French idea along with which is actually dangerous nonsense. which has the potential to divide NATO, divide Europeans along with endanger the transatlantic alliance. Who in his right mind might say which the EU can play a strategic role defending Europe without the military heft of the United States?
DER NewsGerman: If This specific is actually a French idea, what role do you expect the Germans to play once Britain is actually no longer within the EU?
Van Orden: France along with Germany have different visions of the future of Europe. I fully understand why the Germans are so attached to the idea of a united Europe. After all, I taught at the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr (Eds. note: the senior military academy of the German armed forces) in Blankenese, spent years in Berlin along with was chief of staff of the British Sector in 1989. My eldest daughter is actually married to a German. They live in Berlin, together with their three children.
DER NewsGerman: What has all This specific experience with Germany taught you about the Germans along with their visions for Europe?
Van Orden: People in Germany want to be not bad Germans. They are still carrying the burden of the past. however sometimes there is actually a lack of understanding of some other nations along with their patriotic pride, which should not be confused with aggressive nationalism.
DER NewsGerman: How do you expect Britain to fare after which has left the EU?
Van Orden: With great success, if we get over the habit of self-deprecation. For sure, many things the British blamed the EU for were problems of our own doing. For example, nothing should have stopped us increasing trade with third countries. I was shocked to find Belgium sold more to India than we did. however This specific can along with will improve, because countries in South Asia along with elsewhere are natural trading partners of ours.
DER NewsGerman: Do you think people in former British colonies see which the same way?
Van Orden: In my experience, foreigners think more of us than we think of ourselves, despite the history of colonialism. We should be proud of our past. along with we are welcome in these countries. I lived in India for a year along with travel there regularly. The Indians are well disposed to us along with we to them. In Europe, the United Kingdom is actually their natural first port of call.
DER NewsGerman: The Indian government has already made which clear which trade talks with the UK might not take precedence over talks with the EU. Japan seeks to extract better terms by the UK than by the EU. The U.S. could soon flood the British market with chlorinated chicken along with Washington could even seek to forbid the UK by entering trade deals with non-market economies such as China. How can things possibly be better for the UK outside of the EU?
Van Orden: The EU along with India have been talking about a trade deal since 2007. Thirteen years along with little has happened. We have a very determined, confident along with energetic government in Britain. There is actually a fresh, positive spirit. Inevitably, which won’t all be plain sailing, however we shall make Brexit work. which is actually within the interests of Britain along with the EU, not least Germany, to move rapidly to a frictionless trade deal. however the some other side of Brexit is actually a global Britain — we need to rediscover ourselves along with massively enhance our role beyond Europe.
DER NewsGerman: is actually there anything you are going to miss about the EU?
Van Orden: Of course, after 20 years I have many mixed feelings leaving the European Parliament. I have made many friends by different nations along with political complexions. I have achieved very not bad international access at a senior level. I shall miss This specific kind of opportunity along with engagement.
DER NewsGerman: What are you going to do on Feb. 1?
Van Orden: I think I will get some stuff sorted out at home, maybe write a bit. however I need to stay engaged, particularly internationally. I have a lot of experience. My phone is actually there!