UKIP Daily has been handed a copy of the party’s MEP charter.
At its top, the document, which is dated 9 April 2014, says:
This document is strictly confidential and is not to be copied or circulated either inside or outside the party without the express written permission of the Party Chairman. Each copy is individualised. Once signed, it is to be sent to the Party Chairman, who will provide each signatory with a copy for their files. It is an important document which is intended to help UKIP MEPs to understand what is expected of them in their elected role.
So we can’t identify our source.
However, it’s a very interesting document. It covers the role of a UKIP MEP and asks all the party’s MEPs to sign it agreeing that they have read it and will abide by its terms throughout their term of office as a Member of the European Parliament.
The document starts by outlining the MEP’s statutory role which is to ‘represent electors of one of the 12 UK regions in the European Parliament’. As such, the MEP ‘enjoys a personal mandate which is regarded as inviolable in UK law’. However, UKIP MEPs should avoid any conduct which could bring the party into disrepute and should at all times with diligence, integrity, loyalty and responsibility.
Perhaps it is as well that the former UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir no longer represents UKIP as the MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, 66, who defected to the Tories from Ukip in 2015, is reported to have held a £15,000 banquet in 2017 for guests including ex-Conservative Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin.
Specific to the party, our MEPs are expected to use their roles to ‘further the aims and objectives of UKIP’, and the paper goes on to say that all the party’s MEPs must work for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
The Code of Conduct section of the document covers not only those elected, but those who stand for election. Elected MEPs commit to remaining a member of the party throughout their Parliamentary term of office and will resign their seat in the Parliament if they cease to be a member of the party or are unable to continue to follow the policies of the party. Some elected UKIP members of the EU Parliament have violated this clause of the agreement.
The document goes on to explain group management, insisting that all UKIP MEPs will be members of the UKIP group and will take the UKIP whip, ie submit to group discipline and rules. It lays down when and where our MEPs should attend meetings and vote according to guidance ‘whenever possible’.
It includes details of how our MEPs will ensure that details of their expenses and allowances are available to the public.
To maintain transparency, all UKIP MEPs will publish up-to-date details of their expenses and allowances on the UKIP MEPs’ website, and will submit to full open-book oversight of their Parliamentary expenses and allowances.
The website is full of the MEPs’ news – and a link to UKIP Daily – but I can’t see anything about MEPs’ expenses.
The paper covers setting up offices both in Brussels and the UK, and employing staff and Parliamentary Assistants, and suggest such staff should be members of the party. However, members are warned that they must observe the rules of the Parliament regarding the employment of family members and such matters as family-owned limited companies.
MEPs are told they will become party spokesmen ‘in an appropriate area’ as determined by the party leader, and as such will lead, co-ordinate and consult a group of experts in their policy field. They must also ensure that policies are kept up to date, although all major policy directions must be approved by the NEC.
Then comes the interesting paragraph! The document says:
The MEP will be expected, out of their disposable income, to support the party’s and their region’s activities. Each MEP should expect to contribute at least 10% of net salary to central party activities during the year.
These cash contributions should be clearly accounted for in a spreadsheet updated and provided to the Head Office accountant at the end of every quarter.
The Party Treasurer will use/her discretion to assess compliance with this clause, on a case-by-case basis, taking account of the MEP’s personal circumstances.
Is this clause being adhered to? It would be interesting to discover if vast amounts of MEPs’ salaries are being poured into party funds. I suspect not, but what can be done about it? What is being done about it? And why isn’t more being done about it?
MEPs are expected to ‘attend and campaign at Westminster by-elections in any part of the country, and facilitate their regional members to do the same’, and should also ‘provide leadership and encouragement to their regions in preparing for and standing candidates in local elections and by-elections’.
The ‘independent mandate’ which the laws of the UK and the EU confer upon MEPs when they are elected should be rejected, the document says. Our MEPs must recognise that they have been elected on a party list, as a result of work and expense by the party and its members, resulting in election by voters who understand that the party’s primary purpose is to withdraw from the European Union and thereby abolish MEPs. They must not serve the structures of the European Parliament or European Union, nor to legitimise its existence.
And every MEP must report to the party regionally via the monthly Regional Committee meetings and centrally at quarterly meetings which will be convened by the party chairman in London. Again, I ask is this being done? If it is not, the next clause should be brought into play:
All UKIP MEPs recognise that they have no automatic right to reselection and will undergo a selection process specified by the NEC before each successive European election.
They equally recognise that the criteria for reselection will include conformity with this Charter and Code of Conduct, and that the NEC reserves absolutely the right to refuse entry to any future selection process if it considers that an MEP has not fulfilled their role satisfactorily.
And yet, our MEPs are reselected every time there’s an election, even though it may be that some of them are not adhering to the rules to which they signed up.
So what happens on March 29 next year? Will all our MEPs resign and take their snouts out of the EU trough? Or will they ‘go native’? CAN they ‘go native’? Only time will tell.