Each week, the UKIP Eastern Region team sends out an update on the activities of our two MEPs. We re-post their updates under their profiles below each week, deleting the previous week's summary.
Patrick O'Flynn, MEP
Patrick represents the East of England
in the European Parliament, having been elected in 2014. He was educated at Parkside Community College and Long Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge and then proceeded to read Economics at King's College, Cambridge graduating in 1987. He subsequently earned a Diploma in Journalism from City University London. He previously worked as Chief Political Commentator and then Political Editor of the Daily Express. Prior to being elected in May 2014, Patrick was UKIP Director of Communications and also served as Campaign Director for the party’s victorious European elections campaign. His office is in Peterborough. He is married with two teenage children. Follow Patrick on Twitter
and visit his website
for more information.
16th October 2018 update
THE week began on a real high with a fantastic Brexit SOS meeting in Great Baddow in Essex. The room was packed and we had to bring in extra chairs three times to try and seat everyone. At one stage people were even listening in the corridor outside.
My guest speaker was Stewart Jackson, the Tory former MP for Peterborough and former special adviser to David Davis during the Brexit talks. He was damning about the sell-out of Brexit being pushed through by Theresa May, Philip Hammond and their ilk.
A reporter came along from BBC Radio Essex and seemed very impressed with the turnout and the continuing passion for Brexit. Many thanks to everyone at the UKIP Central Essex branch who helped publicise the meeting and drum up local interest.
There is no doubt that the passion for a true Brexit still burns bright in Essex and if Mrs May does sell it out the Tory Party is in for a terrible punishment from many voters.
I was delighted the Great Baddow meeting was so successful given the slightly disappointing turn out we had at Downham Market for our first event a few weeks back. Next up is Brexit SOS in Peterborough in a couple of weeks, with Gerard Batten booked as the star speaker. So I am hopeful of another big crowd there.
Later in the week I was in Brussels for a meeting of the Culture and Education Committee at which handpicked young Europeans were able to pitch their ideas for further measures to promote European identity and harmony. Some of these were outright Orwellian, such as the proposal by one young woman for a tie up of East and West European social science courses in order to make sure that nationalism was not promoted in any way. Naturally I spoke against that idea and pointed out that pride in the nation is not a bad thing unless taken to extremes and artificially trying to suppress it would likely have counterproductive consequences in any case.
While I was in Brussels I also wrote another piece for the Brexit Central website, warning the Conservatives of the electoral oblivion they will face if Mrs May continues to break her promises on Brexit. Its title is If the Tories press on with an epic betrayal of the British public, they should expect an epic punishment
. I got a terrific response to the piece, which was circulated far and wide on social media.
I get the feeling now that more and more Brexit voters are waking up to the extent of the betrayal being carried out by Mrs May and her Tories and are ready to swing behind UKIP again. Regular readers will know I feel that any tie-up with Tommy Robinson is bad news for the party and means we won’t get as high in the polls as we ought to give the political context of the moment.
But I must say that if Brexit is actually utterly betrayed with the UK getting stuck in a customs union with the EU and under European Court of Justice jurisdiction I think the level of popular anger will be so high that the issues around Mr Robinson will become a much more marginal distraction than they have been in recent weeks.
One thing is becoming ever clearer. None of the established Westminster parties can be trusted to enact the wishes of the British public as expressed on June 23, 2016 in that historic referendum. Whatever else people think of UKIP, they at least know it and everyone involved in it is fully committed to the restoration of United Kingdom independence and we all should be very proud of that.
A final point. I think the time is drawing near when pro-Brexit people need to be thinking about a campaign of civil disobedience if the establishment effectively overturns our democratic decision. I will never be in favour of political violence but there are many other steps that could be taken. I have been discussing possible steps with one or two senior pro-Brexit people but if anyone has any ideas to contribute in this regard then please pass them on. If the establishment renders voting irrelevant then clearly we will need to find other eye-catching and possibly disruptive ways to get our arguments across.
Stuart Agnew, MEP
Stuart represents the East of England
in the European Parliament, having been elected in June 2009. Stuart is a member of the European Parliament's Agriculture & Rural Development Committee, where he is often a lone voice in speaking up for British farmers and trying to make the Committee understand the practical effects of their proposals on farmers, in the real world. He is also UKIP’s Agriculture Spokesman.
Outside of UKIP, Stuart Agnew is a member of the National Farmers Union and served as their Norfolk County Chairman in 1998. He is a keen campaigner against the man-made global warming myth and on coastal erosion. Stuart lives and farms in Norfolk. More about Stuart can be found at stuartagnewmep.co.uk
16th October 2018 update
I went to Brussels on Monday for an Agriculture Committee meeting. I missed most of it because I needed to get to the BBC studios elsewhere in town to record an interview for ‘Farming Today’. I understand that an edited version was broadcast the following day. The topic was about the trade in food goods post Brexit, with particular reference to Ireland. They had a lot of technical problems in the Brussels studio and for a time it looked as though it would have to be abandoned.
On Tuesday Andrew Sinclair of BBC East Sunday Politics Show came into the Agriculture Committee meeting. He missed my 15 minutes of fame when my Opinion on Climate Action amended beyond recognition at committee stage
along with my other interventions later in the meeting.EU regulating re-used water for irrigation Paying farmers to produce less Brexit is on everyone's lips in Ireland
Andrew interviewed me during the lunch interval and a tiny segment was broadcast on the Sunday show.
I then attended a lunchtime meeting about protein crops. It was hosted by a Green MEP and I was the only other MEP present. The rest were staff and Green activists. Their position is very contradictory. They bemoan the fact that the EU imports 30 million tonnes per year of soya beans. They seem reluctant to acknowledge that this is only happening on such a large scale because they, themselves, helped ban the growing of these GM beans in Europe. They want to see more uncompetitive non-GM protein crops in Europe, but at the same time want to ban several of the pesticides that are essential to enable these non-GM crops to succeed to harvest. If these people ever have full control of world farming policy there will be many starving people.
The Internal Market Committee (IMCO) met on Wednesday. One of the agenda items was Brexit related. It precipitated some contributions from UK MEPs:Labour MEPs dream of keeping UK in EU Single Market post-Brexit
In the evening I attended a dinner in the MEP dining room which was a working event discussing the problem of Antimicrobial Resistance. Throughout my life, antibiotics have saved lives and greatly reduced the length of periods of illness. This is starting to change as ‘bugs’ are developing a resistance to these drugs, which become ineffective as a result. Unnecessary routine prescriptions by doctors and failure by patients to complete the course when they perceive an improvement have led to this. Agriculture has had a part in this. Forty years ago farmers were routinely including antibiotics in feed as a way to boost productivity and once one producer was gaining an advantage, all were obliged to follow to remain competitive.
In the UK this ceased once the dangers were realised, and the drugs can now only be used with a vet prescription. Other countries have been slower to respond, black markets for these drugs have developed and fraudulent declarations about antibiotic use have betrayed consumers.
Caterers, in particular, and some retail chains have shown little interest in this, to them price is king. The ‘horse/beef’ scandal of a few years ago demonstrated what problems this attitude can lead to. In recent years, British agriculture has taken impressive and exemplary steps in reducing antibiotic use, but the genie is out of the bottle. Further action is needed and Brexit will give us the opportunity to get to grips with this, rather than struggle along at the speed of the EU’s slowest ship. If we don’t act fast, human mortality and sickness will return to the levels of a century ago.
The dinner was attended by several vets and individuals with relevant experience. One of the benefits of being an MEP is the opportunity to mix with non-politicians who are experts in their field. The problem of AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) is above petty politics and all brains need to be engaged. I do have some ‘out of the box’ thinking on the subject and the dinner was a useful opportunity to float these ideas. However, as one of these is to divert all EU funding away from Climate Change and into AMR, I met a polite silence.
Earlier in the week the Parliamentary Assistant of an EFDD MEP had been doing the rounds of MEP offices seeking signatures to a petition relating to Free Speech. He was accompanied by a Ukrainian citizen. The (apparent) problem was the Ukrainian Government’s imminent closure of a TV station that had been critical of the Government. I am not an expert on Ukraine and, in any case, shy away from blindly signing other people’s petitions. However, several of my colleagues had signed the document and I could not produce a good reason not to support free speech and added my signature.
I was given the opportunity of meeting four journalists who worked for the TV station at 09.00 hours on Thursday in my office. They were late because of delays getting through security and I only had a few minutes with them as I needed to vote at 09.30 hours. My own assistant, Anastasia, as her name might imply, has Russian as her first language and I left her to chat with them as only one of them had much English. The journalists had gone when I returned, but Anastasia seemed very agitated. She had ‘smelled a rat’ during the conversation and started to do some research (Anastasia’s father had died prematurely as a result of imprisonment by the Soviet regime and she has no illusions about what can occur in that part of the world). She has discovered the following:-
- During this present run-up to the Parliamentary elections in Ukraine next year, Russia is seeking to gain influence to achieve a pro-Russia outcome. This can be achieved by encouraging Russia friendly political parties, economic influence, military sabre-rattling, media resources and even the pro-Russia Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- Anastasia had discovered from the journalists that their TV station was called 112 Ukraine.
- The most pro-Russian politician in Ukraine is Viktor Medvedchuk, who is a close friend of Vladimir Putin. Medvedchuk is seeking to boost his influence over the media and the pro-Russia 112 station is a good candidate. Up until last April, the station was nominally owned by Andriy Podshchipkov, but numerous market sources insisted the real owner was the former Ukrainian President, and very pro-Russian, Viktor Yanukovych.
- The TV station was sold in April to a German second hand car salesman called Eduard Katz, who lives modestly in a small German village. He had 13 cars for sale when his website was recently checked.
- The de facto owner is, of course, the aforementioned pro-Russian Ukrainian politician, Medvedchuk, whose positive coverage has increased dramatically since 112 changed hands in April.
- Russia is determined to retake control of Ukraine and this little saga has the stench of Putin all over it.
It is hardly surprising that Ukraine wants to close down a propaganda agency of a foreign country determined to take it over by fair means or foul. I have therefore erased my signature from what is effectively a pro-Putin fan club list and have to live with the knowledge that for about 20 hours I was a ‘useful idiot‘. My sincere thanks to Anastasia for getting her boss out of a hole.
I then went to address and engage with a group of 30 American students who are on an exchange with Freiburg University. They had originally hoped for Nigel Farage but I was flattered that he delegated the job to me. I kept my PowerPoint presentation short as I knew they would be full of questions and opinions. Tony Brown, an EFFD staff member, was present and in a position to put that particular perspective across. It seems they had never been confronted with a robust ‘Climate Denier’ before, which made the meeting particularly enjoyable.
On Friday I had an office day at home. I am trying to get to grips with the new way all businesses must record their monthly/quarterly VAT returns. This can start now but must be in use by April. For the last forty years the tax authorities, now HMRC, have only needed to know the total VAT you received and the total you paid, plus your turnover for the period. Now they want to know the details of every single transaction, along with the names of customers and suppliers. Everything must fall into pre-determined categories known as ‘accounts’. My accountant had given me some help, but I had to abandon ship when there seemed to be no way of recording fuel with different VAT rates. I will try again next month, but at least I am in a position to empathise with my many constituents who will struggle with this.
VAT is an EU inspired tax and compulsory for EU members. Whilst the UK goes to extreme lengths to collect it correctly, and thereby place a massive admin burden on small businesses, other countries, notably Greece, are far more casual. One third of one percent of all VAT raised in this country is gifted to the EU. We could dump VAT post-Brexit but, as yet, UKIP have not proposed this.
On Saturday I went to Watford to meet constituents showing an interest in a UKIP stall set up by our Branch. There were many interesting conversations and Branch members distributed a large quantity of our newspaper.