Brexit is not Europe’s number one concerns, says the parliament’s newest MEP
- Credit: supplied by Alex Mayer
Europe's newest MEP Alex Mayer on arriving in the parliament as Britain heads for the exit door.
Britain's newest MEP, Alex Mayer, says the obvious riposte about why she is arriving in the European Union when Britain wants to leave is that it transcends nationalities.
It is no doubt an ice-breaker for the 35-year-old who has arrived in Brussels mid-term after Labour's Richard Howitt stood down last month.
The youngest MEP in the region describes the overwhelming response in the parliament to Brexit as sadness.
But far from dwelling on Britain's imminent EU divorce, MEPs' attention is elsewhere as lawmakers in Brussels mull the Italian referendum, the Greek finance crisis and next year's elections in France, Germany and Holland.
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'Brexit is our number one concern, but it is not other MEPs' concerns at the moment', she said.
But there is not always a divergence of agendas, As part of the employment committee (she took over the post from her predecessor) she has already voted on a report which tried to bring an end to zero hours contracts – something which has been an issue in the UK.
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She has gone straight into the thick of it. Just a few weeks ago she was working for the Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner – now she is travelling backwards and forwards to the continent.
But with little pomp. She was confirmed in post by an email from Chelmsford (two years after elections were held), and in Brussels there are no oaths, she was simply announced.
It is a career with a short shelf life, although she also arrives at a time where there is more interest in Brussels than there has ever been.
MEPs of the past were rarely in the limelight and very few people knew what they did or who they were.
'I genuinely think, for the first time in my life, people are talking about Europe. In some senses it is a very interesting time to become an MEP.'
But Mark Barnier has already indicated he wants British MEPs to be gone by the next European Union elections.
But she is sanguine. 'No job in politics is ever safe. Obviously I know the result of the referendum and Britiain is going to be leaving.'
But far from biding her time before Brexit, Ms Mayer claims it is even more important to have Labour voice talking about what the future should hold – particularly in the East of England where Labour is light on representatives.
Neither Suffolk nor Essex have Labour MPs.
And she said she was still concerned about the lack of a plan and she see that as part of her role – pushing the government for a blueprint, but also building relationships on the continent.
'I think in any negotiation if you can have good relationships that tends to improve things. I want to make sure we get the best for our region. It is important to make sure that, as a Labour MEP, I talk to as many people as possible – in Brussels and Strasbourg and the UK.
'Given what I still think is a terrible decision, we need to get the best possible outcome we can.
'My view hasn't changed from June 24 when I thought it would be a bad thing. I still do,' she said.