Having been elected leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament five times, I have decided not to offer myself for re-election in the annual elections for positions within our delegation this November.
I am extremely proud of all that we have achieved in my time as leader. We have won a European election campaign and played an important part in the British General Election. We have created a strong and stable British Conservative presence in the European Parliament and we have consistently punched well above our weight in defending Britain’s interests. We have pursued David Cameron’s ‘one party’ agenda, ensuring that our links with the Conservative frontbench and the grassroots of the Party are strong. And we have led the other parties in terms of transparency.
My successor will inherit an extremely talented and hard-working delegation which has been ‘refreshed’ with new blood following the European elections last year.
The new group that we have formed in the European Parliament – the European Conservatives and Reformists – has achieved so much in a very short period of time. In the face of adversity, we have established ourselves as a credible and well-respected group in the parliament and we have redrawn the map of European politics. For the first time there is now a credible, centre-right voice articulating the vision of a different kind of Europe whilst harnessing the forces of the centre and centre-right to build an anti-socialist alliance in the parliament.
I intend to focus my efforts on developing the ECR group further as its Deputy Chairman, working side-by-side with Michal Kaminski, our group Chairman. Our partnership has worked well and we intend to build on it so that we can continue to raise our profile and enhance our group’s policy-making machinery. Our group has coordinators on every committee, a committee chairman, a place at the Conference of Presidents (the ‘top table’ of the parliament), and two Prime Ministers in the European Council. Now we want to use that influence and skill to develop a clear positive policy framework for our group, which enables us to enact our founding Prague declaration. I still intend for our group to grow and I will be seeking new members to bolster our ranks.
David Cameron and William Hague have transformed the way that Britain does business in Europe and I enjoy working closely with them. They are sticking up for Britain’s interests in a constructive manner, whilst putting forward a clear vision for a more open, transparent and leaner EU. I will continue to play my part in delivering a Conservative vision for the EU.