UK parties scramble to announce candidates ahead of EU election
UK political parties are scrambling to set out their slates of MEP candidates for the European parliamentary elections ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.
While most of the larger parties have announced their full lists of candidates for each of the 12 regions, some have only provided partial lists.
Gibraltar falls under the South West region where all official parties, save for Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party, have provided their full slate of candidates.
There are six seats being contested in the region with elections set to take place on May 23 unless Prime Minister Theresa May secures backing for her controversial withdrawal agreement, a prospect that seem unlikely.
Currently two of those seats are occupied by Ukip MEPs, two are held by the Conservative party, one seat is held by Labour and one by the Green party.
Half of Gibraltar’s current MEPs top their respective party’s list of candidates.
Yesterday evening Chief Minister Fabian Picardo urged voters to ensure they are registered to ensure they can participate in next month’s elections.
Taking to Twitter he said: “Really happy to have received my card to vote in European elections on Thursday May 23.”
“If you want to vote, make sure you are registered to vote! If you are a Gibraltarian student, make sure you register where you will be on that date! If you'll be at Uni, register in UK!”
At the last EU elections in 2014, the Liberal Democrats pulled the sum of votes from Gibraltar with 4,822, with a 32.84% turnout.
They were followed by the Conservatives with 1,236 and Labour with 659 votes, Ukip polled fourth best with 290 votes.
Following the conclusion of the Labour Party’s selection procedures, current South West and Gibraltar MEP Clare Moody has been re-selected at the top of the party’s list for the European parliamentary elections.
Speaking after the announcement of the candidates, Ms Moody said: “I am delighted to be leading Labour’s list of fantastic candidates for the South West and Gibraltar in the European elections on May 23.”
“I am looking forward to a positive campaign with all South West Labour candidates up and down the region.”
After Ms Moody, Labour’s full list of candidates for the South West and Gibraltar region includes Andrew Adonis, Jayne Kirkham, Neil Guild, Yvonne Atkinson and Sadik Al Hassan.
The Conservative party has selected current MEP Ashley Fox as its top candidate for the forthcoming EU Parliamentary elections for the South West and Gibraltar.
He is joined by James Mustoe, Faye Purbrick, Claire Hiscott, James Taghdissian and Emmeline Owens as Tory candidates.
The Conservatives ousted former Gibraltar MEP and long-time friend of the Rock Julie Girling from the party ranks in October of last year.
Ms Girling confirmed yesterday that she would not be standing in the European election having opted not to accept a place on the candidates list for Change UK.
She had the Conservative party whip withdrawn after she supported a vote in Strasbourg stating that not enough progress had been made in the first stage Brexit negotiations to allow discussion to move onto the trade-deal phase of the talks.
Although she was not available for comment yesterday she said in a statement: “I have been following the online debate about how to maximise the ‘Remain Vote’ in the coming European Elections with increasing dismay.”
“I have decided to simplify the decision for the large numbers of constituents who have pledged their support to me personally by not accepting a place on the candidates list for Change UK.”
“I would encourage my supporters to vote for candidates who have a proven record in the European Parliament and represent a party with a clear pro second referendum pledge.”
“I have been an MEP for 10 years and it has been a great privilege to serve the people of the South West and Gibraltar. I would like to thank you all for your support.”
For the Liberal Democrats, Caroline Voaden has been selected as the party’s top candidate for the South West and Gibraltar region.
Additionally, Martin Horwood, Stephen Williams, Eleanor Rylance and David Chalmers have been named as candidates for the party.
The 2019 European elections in the United Kingdom will take place on Thursday May 23.
The UK and Gibraltar were not expected to participate in these elections but a further extension to the Brexit deadline increased the likelihood that the UK would still be a member of the EU by the date of the election.
Parties have therefore had to scramble together lists of aspiring MEPs ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for candidates.
Boris Johnson's sister Rachel is to stand as a European election candidate for Change UK, the pro-remain party set up by The Independent Group.
Ms Johnson, who will stand in the South West and Gibraltar region, appeared at an event to launch the party's election campaign in Bristol yesterday.
She was joined on stage by the party's MPs and other candidates including former BBC Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler.
Change UK’s other candidates for the region includes Jim Godfrey, Oli Middleton, Matthew Hooberman, Liz Sewell and Crispin Hunt.
Interim leader Heidi Allen said 3,700 people had offered to stand for Change UK - The Independent Group in the European elections.
She described the candidates as from "every corner of the UK" and from "all walks of life".
"We are here to say we stand ready," she said.
"These elections are a chance to send the clearest possible message - we demand a People's Vote and the right to campaign to remain in the European Union.”
"We are not afraid to say it as clearly as that."
She added: "This is no rebel alliance - this is the home of the remain alliance."
Mr Esler, who has more than 40 years' experience in television and radio journalism, will stand in London.
He slammed Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, as "pretend men of the people".
The candidate, who has not previously been a member of a political party, described them as the "posers of Brexit" who were "selling the same old snake oil".
"They claim to speak for the people - they do not," Mr Esler said.
"They stole our patriotism and I want it back."
Mr Esler said he was "seriously worried" about the future of Britain.
"Our political system is a joke. It is a worldwide joke," he told the event.
"They are laughing at us - not with us, at us. It is broken.”
"This country cannot possibly be strong abroad when it is weak at home.”
"We all know any version of Brexit will make us poorer as a country."
But, the Green party has dismissed Change UK as “a single-issue party with no coherent policy platform beyond opposing Brexit”.
Molly Scott Cato is standing for re-election as a Green MEP in the South West and Gibraltar region.
She tops the Greens list of candidates for the region. The second candidate on the list is the out-going Bristol Lord mayor, Cleo Lake followed by Carla Denyer, Tom Scott, Martin Dimery and Karen La Borde.
Ms Scott Cato told The Guardian: “Change UK are a single-issue party with no coherent policy platform beyond opposing Brexit.”
“This is a re-branding exercise for former Conservative and Labour politicians who presided over cuts to public services and the relentless growth in inequality. And we have no idea which group in the European parliament any elected MEPs would join.”
“Greens on the other hand are the most electorally successful pro-EU party standing in this election and Green votes are more likely to send pro-EU MEPs to Brussels than votes for any other party.”
“We are standing candidates in all 28 EU nations and polls suggest Greens will increase their number of MEPs.”
Climate change will be at the core of all Green policy in the next European Parliament.
Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has unveiled a handful of candidates but not yet specified which regions they will be standing in.
He vowed to target Labour heartlands of south Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, and insisted that the party was already "doing very well" with Conservative supporters.
Attacking rival new pro-Remain party Change UK as "Continuity UK", Mr Farage said his candidates were the ones who would "revolutionise and modernise politics".
The party he used to lead – Ukip – has set out its South West and Gibraltar candidates for the forthcoming EU Parliamentary elections.
Top of its list is Lawrence Webb followed by Carl Benjamin, Tony McIntyre, Lester Geoffrey Taylor, Stephen Lee and Richard Wright.
Current Ukip and Gibraltar MEP Julia Reid resigned from the party in December 2018.