It's a strange and tearful time here in Brussels and I am learning a lot about being a European. I arrived at the Parliament feeling fearful about how our vote to reject the EU might have been received and how I might be treated. I need not have worried. Even before I entered the building I was greeted by a cheery French member of staff who said 'Welcome home!' Since then I can confirm that the #hugabrit campaign has gained momentum since the result!
As MEPs we are in a grieving process and so experiencing a range of emotions. A lot of the time I feel rage about the poor level of debate we have just been through and fear about the consequences of the decision we have taken. I am also trying to see positive Green possibilities of operating outside the single market. And quite often I just feel deeply sad.
As somebody who has always, like many Greens, had plenty of criticisms of Europe, I am also learning difficult lessons about what being a good European means. It is difficult to realise that European colleagues can accept our decision to reject the European Union largely without rancour. It is painful to realise that others are more affectionate and confident about my homeland than I am able to be myself just now.
It is the nature of European politics that you have to give something up to gain something. Our history of membership has been one of pursuing national interest and trying to have our cake and eat it. We have not been able to rise above our belief that 'An Englishman's home is his castle'. In this sense we have not learned to be good Europeans.
We will now experience life outside the EU. I think we are mistaken to think that we will be insulated from the crises our continent is facing. Being an island does make us different but it does not make secure from the threats of this century. We are in a new world now and I will do what I can to ensure that the affection I have received since my return to Brussels is not undermined in the uncertain days that lie ahead.
Molly Scott Cato is the Green MEP for the South West
This blog first appeared on Molly's Facebook page, and can be read here
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