LIVERPOOL—Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union may have entered their final stage, but plenty of uncertainties remain. No one knows, for example, whether both sides will be able to negotiate a final deal by November. No one knows what negotiators will do to prevent a border on the island of Ireland. And no one knows if the U.K. will ultimately leave with a deal, or without one.
But one thing is certain: The U.K. is slated to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. When it does, Neena Gill will be out of a job.
And she won’t be the only one. Gill is one of 73 British lawmakers currently representing the U.K. in the European Parliament. Though Gill advocated for Britain remaining in the EU during the 2016 Brexit referendum, the region she represents in the West Midlands boasted the highest share of votes in favor of leaving in the country. Even with Brexit negotiations well underway, Gill’s job is still far from finished. Now she is focused on ensuring that her region’s views and interests are represented in Brussels, as well as in the final Brexit deal.
But representing Britain in an organization as it’s preparing to leave hasn’t been easy. When I met with Gill at the Labour Party’s annual conference in Liverpool this week, she told me that her last two years as a British member of European Parliament (MEP) have been some of the most difficult—and the most frustrating. “The entire process has been a disaster in terms of not just the British image abroad and the way people view us, but also in relation to just doing what we used to be very good at, which was getting our key message across to all of our representatives,” she said. Prior to Brexit, British lawmakers in Brussels might have known what the U.K.’s positions are on various issue areas. But now, with the seemingly constant infighting in Westminster over what kind of deal the U.K. should strike with the EU (or whether it needs one at all), there is no such clarity. “People would ask me, ‘What exactly does the U.K. want?’” Gill said. “And frankly, for two years I haven’t been able to give them an answer.”