Why I won’t stand for re-election as an MEP

I’ve repeatedly said I won’t stand for re-election as an MEP. Here’s why.

As an MEP, over the last year it has become abundantly clear that from the European Parliament I will be unable to make any meaningful difference to the Brexit cause. I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to put my points across to politicians at Westminster, giving evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee on the financial implications of Brexit. I’ve tried to make my arguments in a reasoned way in the newspapers, on the radio and on television. I’ve done my best to make myself available at short notice for interviews where possible. In the European Parliament I’ve made hundreds of speeches.

There are issues that aren’t related to Brexit that are close to my heart. I’ve done a lot of work over recent years on the persecution of Christians worldwide, which has given me the opportunity to put my case to some influential people. I’ve met senior diplomats and government ministers from various countries to put that case.

I’ve done my job, to the best of my ability, over the last five years. Unlike most career politicians, I’ve got through it without massive scandal, ‘car-crash’ interviews, or saying anything particularly outrageous and stupid. I don’t seek controversy solely to generate headlines. I try to attack opponents only when they deserve it – though that is, to be fair, quite often. There are many things in life that I constantly second-guess; my record in political life is not one of them.

But if I were to stand for election again, it wouldn’t be to the European Parliament. It would be to Westminster, because only at Westminster can we ensure that Brexit is delivered. The centre of gravity has shifted back to Westminster. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve found myself sitting in Strasbourg, watching online to find out what’s going on in Westminster.

Remain-candidates for the European elections argue that their MEPs will ‘reform the European Union from within’. That is, sadly, a load of nonsense. MEPs just don’t have the power needed to be able to reform it. If the European Union were reformable, the last 45 years of attempted reform would have made things better. They haven’t. The democratic deficit has grown. To ‘reform’ the EU would require Treaty change. Last month, the European Parliament voted twice in under a week to end the Brussels-Strasbourg travelling circus. It’s been doing the same for years, but it doesn’t have the power to decide where it meets.

Every single time the Treaties have changed, it’s made things worse. Further power has been transferred from national governments to the European Union. That’s the nature of the EU; the so-called ‘ever-closer Union’ that pushes us inexorably in one direction. MEPs cannot reform the European Union. Those who suggest they can are selling you snake oil.

We do need a Brexit-backing party to win the European elections. We’ve told them four times already (Euro2014, GE2015, Ref2016, GE2017) that we want to leave the European Union. They haven’t got the message; we need to tell them a fifth time. Westminster isn’t listening; let’s say it again – louder!

There is only one such party capable of winning in 2019, and that is the Brexit Party. I will therefore be voting for, supporting, and campaigning for, the Brexit Party at the European elections. I wish them, and their candidates, all the very best. The future of our nation depends on your endeavours. You must stand firm, be strong, and never let us down.