Have MEPs been working since the Brexit vote?

Some have barely shown up

, Abigail Fenton & Rik Worth 11th April 2019

A handful of British MEPs have barely done anything in the European Parliament since the Brexit vote.

While most MEPs have continued to work hard, some producing more than 1,000 report amendments and maintaining a high attendance rate, others have done no work on reports and maintained a minimum level of attendance.

We’ve crunched the numbers in order to give you an idea of how hard your MEPs are working. It’s extremely rudimentary — based only on report amendments and attendance at the plenary, the large forum which occurs every few weeks — but it should help you see at a glance whether you should be concerned about how much work your MEP is putting in.

How hard does your MEP work?

Combining report amendments and plenary attendance gives a rough indication of how hard your MEP has been working since the Brexit vote in June 2016. When we spoke to MEPs, they weren’t keen on a ranking system, but many did say these measures give an indication of whether an MEP participates in the European Parliament.

The bigger the square, the more amendments on reports. Use the dropdown list to see the MEPs from your area.

As an overview, current and former Ukippers like Louise Bours, Paul Nuttall and Nigel Farage have the worst stats.

In fact, while Ukip and former Ukip MEPs are the worst in the UK for attendance, they also rank as worst in the entire European Parliament. That’s out of 751 MEPs from 28 countries.

“It’s actually quite embarrassing, I think,” says Conservative MEP Dr Charles Tannock, who is a supporter of Britain staying in the EU, summing up the performance of the worst MEPs.

The best attendance at plenary since the Brexit vote goes to Labour’s Derek Vaugh with 98.7% attendance, while Lucy Anderson, who is also a Labour MEP, made the most report amendments with a whopping 3,225 in total since the vote.

Read more in our detailed guide to the best and the worst.

What do MEPs do?

It’s fair to say that numbers are never able to tell the full story. There are some MEPs who do not rank very highly by plenary attendance and report amendments who do lots of work.

The job of an MEP is very broad, as Labour’s Jude Kirton-Darling explained: “The European Parliament is different to Westminster, in that most of the work in the European Parliament is done in the committees. And so an active MEP isn’t necessarily somebody who speaks a lot in plenary and covers lots of things superficially, but actually gets involved in the committee work and tries to shift the direction of European policy on the one hand, and is then active in their home community, ensuring that there’s that constituency link.”

Kirton-Darling’s Labour colleague, MEP Julie Ward, added: “What I often tell people is that in the European Parliament we sit in a circle and talk until we agree. It’s not like Westminster, it’s not adversarial politics.

“One thing that’s really notable is that when members speak, they often start with something along the lines of ‘I want to thank my colleagues for their good cooperation’.”

It’s by far the hardest job I’ve ever done, probably twice as hard as any other job I’ve ever done

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato told us she was shocked by how much work it was when she first started the role. “Basically, it takes up your whole life. I’m not complaining about that, but it’s incredibly hard work. It’s by far the hardest job I’ve ever done; probably twice as hard as any other job I’ve ever done,” she says.

Not only is the role of an MEP broad and time-consuming, it can also be very intellectually difficult.

She adds: “I was a professor of economics before, and I sit on the economics and monetary policy committee here, and I have to work on detailed technical legislation, and I have assistants helping me who’ve worked in that sector, who are very skilled, but it’s really at the edge of my ability to cope. You know, it’s really high-powered technical work, and a lot of it and a lot of variety.

“I’ve written bits of law now, which MPs don’t get to do. It’s a much more sophisticated and difficult job than what they do.”

Also part of our MEPs investigation:

What can you do about an MEP who doesn’t show up?

MEPs: The best and the worst

While we’ve been arguing about Brexit, Ukip MEPs have moved to the far right

Losing the hard work of British MEPs may put us in danger


, Abigail Fenton & Rik Worth 11th April 2019