Brexit puts the details of the European elections in limbo. It looked like there will be 705 MEPs. Now it seems we will see the same number of MEPs as before: 751. With Britain or not, for the Polish MEPs it makes a difference of one mandate: with Britain in the EU there will be 51 MEPs elected in Poland. If Brexit takes place, there are 52 MEPs to be elected from Poland.
51 or 52 makes a difference if you are one of the last people to be elected from Law and Justice (PiS), the European Coalition (KE), the Spring (Wiosna), Kukiz’15 or the Confederacy, as those political forces have real chances for a mandate in the 26 May elections.
However, Brexit makes for a twist in those calculations. It appears that Jacek-Vincent Rostowski, a former finance minister and deputy PM under Donald Tusk, is a candidate in… the United Kingdom for the Change UK party.
Jacek Rostowski is a London-born politician of dual, Polish-British nationalities. As a finance minister 2007-13 he was key in safe navigation of the Polish economy through the difficult high waters of the European and global economic downturn. He was named Europe’s best finance minister 2009 by The Banker magazine.
As a former ECOFIN member he is a perfect ECON candidate. Despite his credentials, in 2014 Mr Rostowski was a disappointment for his Polish party, the EPP’s Civic Platform, when he did not win a seat while being a leading candidate in the Bydgoszcz region. In Britain, his first political party was the Conservative Party. Today it is Change UK.
Today Mr Rostowski is deeply troubled with Brexit. He says in Business Insider, Brexit is “the worst thing that has happened in Western Europe since the Second World War” and would like to see it undone. He says that the 2016 referendum was a one big lie. Rostowski: “I know just how incredibly good the British were at getting their interests across the line within the European Union. They were absolutely the best negotiators” and saw even one French minister cry because he was out-negotiated by the British minister.
On social issues like gay marriage, Mr Rostowski changed his position. The British media have uncovered his anti-gay statements from the past. “My views have fundamentally changed,” he says today, “I’m a Conservative and Conservatives change their views.” Polish gay news-wire Queer.pl called for other PO candidates, who expressed anti-gay views in the past to follow Mr Rostowski’s footsteps.
Mr Rostowski is clearly canvassing the European voters, who are not British, on his twitter account. He wrote in Polish and in French a little info:
Mr Rostowski is 2nd on the Change UK list in London. Change UK is polling at about 6-9%.
It may be that with or without Brexit there are 52 Polish MEPs, after all, which is an interesting nuance.
More importantly, the candidacy of Mr Rostowski is a living proof of the truth about the European elections: that it is about the Europeans, not the states. Mr Rostowski voters will be Brits and all the other European citizens, who are not UK citizens. There are about 17 million Europeans who reside in another EU member state. In Poland there is only about 30,000 of them, but in UK alone there are about 800,000 Poles. In London alone there are about 200,000 French citizens.
It is your vote, if you are European, you can vote wherever you live.