Liberal Democrat MEPs not on a summer break?


Ten Members of the European Parliament have written to the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the sensitive issue of Kashmir. What was not mentioned in the letter however, was that all ten contributors are from the UK’s Liberal Democratic party. This fact calls into question the motives of such a move. This action could be considered an abuse of their newly won positions, especially considering that one of the signatories, Shaffaq Mohammed, was born in Kashmir.

The Liberal Democrats have been performing poorly at the UK electoral ballot box since 2010, but have recently been gaining traction due to their strong anti-Brexit position. The party has experienced many rises and falls since their inception in 1988, but have yet to have any significant impact on national politics and have never been able to reach the winning line in any UK general election. With only 13 Members in the UK House of Commons, and 16 Members in the European Parliament (MEPs), it is strange that the newly elected MEPs would jeopardise their newly found position.

MEPs Shaffaq Mohammed, Phil Bennion, Judith Bunting, Chris Davies, Anthony Hook, Martin Horwood, Lucy Nethsinga, and Sheila Richie, led by MEP Irina Von Wiese, vice-chair of the subcommittee on human rights, all co-signed the letter this August. Earlier in July 2019, this group of MEPs joined the new mandate of the European Parliament, which began just after the May elections. The original date for the UK’s exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit, was set for March 31st. However, due to an extension of the Brexit negotiations, the UK was unexpectedly included in the European Elections. The allocation of Parliamentary Committee positions and Groups took place over the first few weeks of July before the Parliament closed for summer vacations. The Liberal Democrats joined their likeminded colleagues within the ALDE Group ( Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – a long established and successful group inside the European Parliament.

During this period the world continued to witness numerous cases of refugees sinking in boats off the shores of Europe. At the same time, the UN declared that July was Afghanistan’s “deadliest month”, the Xinjiang region in China experienced the continued interment of innocent Muslim Uyghurs, mass protests in Hong Kong against extradition legislation have sent the region into conflict, a growing political crisis in Venezuela saw cities plunged into darkness, and people of all ages joined climate change protests across Europe in the hope of getting the attention of their politicians. Sadly many politicians, including those of the UK Liberal Democratic party were too busy squabbling over Brexit, electing their new leaders for their Parties and trying to locate their offices in the European Parliament, to take notice. Now that they have spare time to address international issues, whilst waiting for newly elected UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, the Liberal Democrat MEPs managed to coordinate their activities and prepare a letter on the case of Kashmir.

High Representative/Vice President of the European External Action Service, Federica Mogherini, is still away enjoying her holidays, but one can expect that the few people left to manage her office in the interim will be able to reach her to get a few pleasing words with which to reply to the MEPs’ letter. The issue is not one of Kashmir, but how and why ten UK Liberal Democrat MEPs found it necessary to interrupt their holiday time to prepare a letter for the EEAS. One may posit that they are motivated by another agenda. The new leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Jo Swinson, would be wise to call for an investigation into the motives of this collusion.

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