EU’s longest-serving MEP brands Brexit a ‘profound mistake’

PUBLISHED: 13:20 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:20 31 January 2020

A man dressed as an undertaker holding a wreath with an EU flag on in Parliament Square. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

A man dressed as an undertaker holding a wreath with an EU flag on in Parliament Square. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The EU’s longest-serving MEP says that Brexit is a ‘profound mistake’ - and said he is worried about the ‘man of the street’ if job losses and price hikes start to hit.

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Lib Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn. Photograph: Lib Dems.Lib Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn. Photograph: Lib Dems.

Liberal Democrat Bill Newton Dunn, who served in the first European Parliament in 1979, said he feared ordinary people would be abandoned by the Tories.

"I think the rich Tories will look after themselves - they've got the tax havens," he told the PA news agency.

"But it is the man in the street in the UK who may lose his job or the prices might start rising if sterling falls, so I am worried."

He added: "I am very, very worried for the UK.

"I think it is a profound mistake in history, if you are going to do something you need to have a plan for what you are going to do next."

He compared Brexit to the invasion of Iraq by British and US forces without a plan to govern the country after Saddam Hussein was toppled.

"Boris Johnson doesn't appear to have a plan - it's just 'It's going to be glorious, a new dawn'," he said.

Newton Dunn served as an MEP for Lincolnshire between 1979 and 1994 when he lost his seat following a boundary shift.

He was re-elected as a Conservative MEP for the East Midlands in 1999 but quit the party and joined the Liberal Democrats in 2000 because of the deepening Euroscepticism among the Tories.

After two re-elections as a Lib Dem, he lost his seat in 2014 only to return to the EU parliament last July following May's elections.

He is the only member of the first parliament still to hold a seat, and says successive British governments have never understood the need to work with the UK delegation in Brussels.

MEPs are still denied an access pass into Westminster.

"In Westminster there is still this belief that 'we are the mother of parliaments, the mother of empires'," he said.

"The real facts have never been given to the public for 40 years.

"That's why we are paying the price now."

When asked if he could see a positive future relationship between the UK and the EU, or even see the UK rejoining, he said: "We've got to get over this lack of understanding and this suspicion.

"We have this mentality of 'we are a superpower, we don't need anybody, they need us more than we need them'."

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