Rupert Lowe: There’s a Real Chance Other Countries May leave | Sarah Stook
The Mallard thanks Mr. Lowe for his time
Rupert Lowe is at pains to say that he isn’t a politician. If we’re going to be technical, he is as a Member of the European Parliament. He isn’t incorrect though. Unlike many politicians who have contested a dozen seats, Mr. Lowe has only run for office twice.
The first time was back in 1997, for the now-defunct Referendum Party. Its goal, as one can probably guess, was to get a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Though Mr. Lowe kept his deposit when he contested The Cotswolds, the party didn’t get as far as many wanted.
Mr. Lowe has been a businessman for most of his career, including a stint as chair of Southampton Football Club. Though he was active in the 2016 leave campaign, he didn’t get involved in mainstream politics until 2019.
This re-invention occurred when Mr. Lowe called up Nigel Farage for a coffee. This had been he had seen May’s deal, which he thought was frankly disastrous. Farage offered Mr. Lowe the opportunity to contest a European seat if the 29th March deadline was not met, to which he agreed. Fast forward to May 2019, and Mr. Lowe wins a seat as part of the West Midlands Region, the Brexit Party winning 3/7 seats in the region. Thus begins our story.
How did Rupert Lowe enter the Eurosceptic cause?
Our older readers will remember the battle to join the Euro in the 90s. This is what got Mr. Lowe into the cause. In our telephone interview, he called the Euro ‘a political experiment.’ He went on to state that the Euro should have realistically collapsed by now, but has been propped up by a powerful central banking system. Lowe doesn’t like how the UK elects MEPs by regions; something he believes is an attempt to break down the proudest sovereign democracy in the world.
Whilst he’s still a strong Eurosceptic still, he’s grateful for the opportunity to serve in the EU parliament. He’s met wonderful people and has learnt how the whole operation works. Still, Lowe is dissatisfied by the whole operation, specifically non-elected officials becoming the guiding voice over those who were elected. It’s clear; however, he is thankful for being elected. Lowe’s dissent regarding the EU isn’t anti-European, but because of his pro-British attitude and belief that we’re getting a rough deal.
What is Rupert Lowe’s ideology?
‘Well at university, I wasn’t left left, but I was against the state.’ Lowe defines himself as right of centre, sympathetic to conservative policies but not willing to ‘jump off a cliff with the Tories.’ He passionately talks about his libertarianism. It’s important to him that the state shrinks, as he believes a minimum state means maximum freedom.
To Lowe, it’s about logic. His logic is simple, in that he is standing for the greatest sovereign people in the world. He’s not a partisan man by any means.
What’s his view of a post-Brexit world?
Mr. Lowe said he had no definitive answer. He’s quick with statistics though. With the £100bn trade deficit that the UK has with the EU, he believes it’s in their best interests to give us a fair deal. He thinks we have enough time to get a good deal, especially since we’ve been in the organisation so long- we have been given til December 31st after all.
He points out that the EU does have a problem- the UK is the same size (GDP) as the smallest 19 countries in the bloc and that we are the second biggest contributor. Greenland left many years ago and also got a good deal, though it may be more complicated in this case.
Mr. Lowe may dislike the EU, but he’s pragmatic in believing that it’s best for both sides that we have a trade deal. His tone makes it clear that it’s not just down to pragmatics, but also fairness. He’s hopeful that we do not only have a deal that benefits the UK, but the European people too. Throughout the conversation, I felt that Mr. Lowe does love Europe, just not the EU.
The one concern he has is that the EU might make an example of us; something that he thinks would be a huge problem in relations. Mr. Lowe is confident that since the December 2019 election, the penny has dropped for the EU and they have finally realised that they WILL be leaving. He’s positive about our prospects, but doesn’t hesitate to be realistic when it comes to our somewhat fractured relationship with the trading bloc.
Who does he think helped the most in achieving Brexit?
His immediate answer is the late Sir James Goldsmith, the man who founded and bankrolled The Referendum Party. He’s deferential to the man and his strong fight against the Euro, believing him to be the driving force that protected the pound.
To use an old phrase, Lowe states that Goldsmith ‘hummed the tune, whilst Nigel Farage sang it.’ Lowe credits Farage for fighting a lonely battle for decades.
Oh, and he didn’t forget to credit the voters either.
The youth tend to be more pro-EU. What does he have to say to that?
Lowe admits that the EU is very good at getting their word out through publicising themselves. Essentially, Lowe believes that the young have been brainwashed into thinking that the EU is democratic when it is not- the unelected Commission holds the power, not our elected officials.
He doesn’t degrade the young for wanting to be part of Europe, he understands it in fact. He believes, however, the official purpose- sovereign nations using free trade- has been completely changed. Lowe also states that the EU was mis-sold after World War 2.
As said before, Lowe does clearly care for Europe as a continent- he wants trade and he wants to work together, just not through the EU. His concern, however, is the EU becoming a dictatorial central super state- clearly not what anyone had signed up for. Lowe’s most pressing concern is regarding freedom, which he worries will be taken away by an authoritarian EU.
It’s important, he says, for people to come together, but not to be forced to.
What are his plans for after Brexit?
As said before, Lowe is not a career politician. He’s been a businessman for most of his life. Whilst he enjoyed his time in the European Parliament, he derided it as a ‘distraction’ which stopped him from taking part in other projects.
Though he doesn’t plan to be an employed politician again, he’s pleased that the EU Parliament gave him new knowledge regarding how our politics works.
Is he confident with the new Conservative administration?
Lowe is quick to say that it is far too early for him to judge. He thinks that Boris Johnson has made some good noises on certain policies, but states that ‘we must see what the hands are doing and not watch the mouth.’ He is still dissatisfied with the deal.
Which other countries does he believe will leave the EU?
Lowe thinks there is a ‘real’ chance that others will leave, as we have taken a few bricks out of the wall. He talks mainly about the budget due to us leaving, which he believes will have more strain on smaller countries- a strain that they are not willing to take.
He states that Italy has suffered under the EU and think it’s the most likely to go. He lists Greece, Portugal and Spain as the next most likely- though it depends on if our exit is successful or not.
What does the EU need to do to reform?
Interestingly, Lowe doesn’t mention obvious things like streamlining the number of officials first. He talks about the carbon footprint, as the EU operates in three areas- Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels. He points out the hypocrisy of the EU and how they talk about the climate, but don’t act upon it.
As a businessman, Lowe advocates for the EU acting exactly like a business. He also believes it should be the elected politicians that represent the voters, not the unelected bureaucracy that they have at the moment.
If the EU does not want to lose people, they need to look at the budget- otherwise, as Lowe states, other countries will away.
What should parliament be doing after Brexit?
Lowe’s first comment is about the overlooked places of Britain, though he doesn’t give examples of this. He talks about the industries that have gone abroad, like fishing, and how we must bring that enterprise back. Lowe bemoans how unproductive industries triumph over the productive ones.
Ever the libertarian, Lowe is passionate about reducing the size of the state, and is against government intervention in the economy. As an example, he uses the pensions industry- how it is too complicated and it is easy for an error to be made which allows more tax to be paid to the Exchequer. Lowe wants to stop unaccountable organs of the government, such as the HMRC which does not collect tax on the richest companies but crunching hard working people in ‘Middle England.’
Lowe also discusses free ports and superfast broadband, as well as his disagreement with HS2- he believes it gives too much power to London and the South East.
His final point is about how parliamentary democracy is going to be focused upon much more now the EU is gone, which will put them in the spotlight. No longer will they be able to ‘swan’ around, he says, as they will be held to account.
Most of all, Lowe says, the taxpayer should be top of the agenda.
The conversation ends with mutual gratitude on both sides. Speaking to Mr. Lowe was a great opportunity to learn about politics, as well as the singular politician. I thank him for being so accommodating and open in his conversation.