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Friday, 12 March 2010

Senior Conservative MEP defects to the Liberal Democrats

The former leader of the Conservative MEPs and the longest serving Conservative MEP who also stood against Tory-backed Michal Kaminski has announced his defection to the Liberal Democrats at the Party’s Spring Conference in Birmingham.

Edward McMillan-Scott, the Conservative’s most senior MEP, has today joined the Liberal Democrats.

Edward is the Vice-President of the European Parliament with responsibility for human rights and democracy, was welcomed to the Liberal Democrats today by Leader Nick Clegg.

Edward McMillan-Scott, MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire said: “I have been around the higher circles of the Conservative Party for long enough to fear that on Europe Cameron says one thing in opposition and will do another in Government.

“I have long fought against totalitarianism and the extremism and religious persecution it brings. It was wrong of Cameron to associate with MEPs who have extremist pasts in his new European alliance.

“My reasons for joining the Liberal Democrats are that in Nick Clegg they have a leader whom I like, admire and respect. They are internationalists, not nationalists. They are committed to politics based the values of fairness and change.

“From being a liberal Conservative I become a conservative Liberal. Most of my family are liberals: I am pleased to join the Liberal family.”

Nick Clegg said: “I am delighted to welcome Edward McMillan-Scott to the Liberal Democrats.

“For many years he has fought for human rights and democracy world wide and he is rightly a respected politician across Europe.

“As someone of principle he has refused to cosy up to right wing extremists, despite pressure from the Tory machine.

“This flies in the face of David Cameron’s claims of change. It shows that people of principle, who believe in fairness and want real change for Britain are at home in the Liberal Democrats.”

The now Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber clashed with David Cameron last year over the Conservative leader's decision to remove his MEPs from the centre-right European People's party and set up a new group, European Conservatives and Reformists, with controversial allies from eastern Europe.

McMillan-Scott successfully stood against Michał Kamiński, the Polish MEP chosen to lead the new group, for the post of vice-president of the European parliament, and as a result he had the Tory whip removed.

From The Guardian;
Visiting Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street today, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, said he "regretted" Cameron's decision to pull the Tories out of the European People's party.

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