In Brussels, I am accustomed to being in a minority — although I am finding that in some circles, like the European Energy Forum and the Industry Committee, a refreshing draught of common sense is creeping in at the margins. That is why we managed to vote down the efforts of the greens and the left to bring forward the utterly perverse “Market Stability Reserve” from 2021 to 2017.
Some colleagues seem to have woken up to the extent of the threat which climate alarmism poses to EU competitiveness.
I am not accustomed, however, to being in a minority of one. Yet such was the case on Wednesday evening, when I attended a dinner meeting in Brux with UK MPs from the Climate Change Committee of the HoC. There were five MPs, all passionate Warmists, and led by the notorious Tim Yeo, that bête noire of climate realists.
There were half a dozen MEPs, including three Labour MEPs; the last remaining Lib-Dem MEP Catherine Bearder; and a Tory who arrived late after speaking in Plenary. And then there were half a dozen staffers from the Westminster Committee and from UKREP. Warmists to a man (and woman).
But what amazed me most was the egregious rudeness of Tim Yeo. I was frankly astonished. After letting others put their position on the ETS/MSR , I made the case that the policy was perverse — that we were driving jobs and investment and industry out of the EU, and arguably increasing global emissions in the process – very much the case that I made on Monday 26th in ITRE. And I made my remarks in a quiet, urbane and entirely reasonable way (honest). I was much less forceful over dinner than I had been in Committee.
As I concluded my remarks, Yeo turned to the rest of the table and said “Now that we’ve heard that rant, let’s go back to the business of the evening”. I must buy him a dictionary — he clearly is unfamiliar with the meaning of the word “rant”.
He was there as a guest in the European parliament, and as a guest, he had a duty of respect and courtesy — but those qualities seemed to be quite foreign to him. I was forced to raise my voice and give him a little verbal chastisement. He declared that he would show me no respect, because I had insulted him on social media (he said), and told lies about him. I invited him to give an example of such a lie, but he was unable to do so, and merely harrumphed instead.
Neither was there any answer — either from Yeo or from the others — to the basic issues of what they call “carbon leakage”, and what I (and Antonio Tajani) call “an industrial massacre”. The three Labour MEPs all claimed a trade union background, yet they seemed totally indifferent to the job losses — in hundreds of thousands — which EU policy is creating.
Not only rude, but ignorant. Over an issue to do with smart meters, Tim Yeo came up with the extraordinary proposition that “UKIP is opposed to giving consumers a free choice”. Since we’re a libertarian party fighting for an EU referendum (plus other referenda), his assertion is not only wrong, but wildly and absurdly wrong. I hesitate to call it a lie, because it may have been a mistake — but if so it shows a remarkable degree of culpable ignorance. If you’re going to tell lies about UKIP, Tim, you might at least try to make them half-credible, rather than spouting such obvious nonsense, and making yourself look like an idiot.
I mentioned these exchanges later to an MEP from Yeo’s own party, the Tories. The reply? “He’s the smuggest, most supercilious man I know”. No wonder his constituency party has de-selected him.