All MEPs are given a fixed allowance of £3,580 per month. They do not have to provide receipts for any of that expenditure, writes UKIP Leader Nigel Farage in The Indipendent.
• The front page of The Times, the newspaper of the establishment and passionate supporter of David Cameron, has grossly misled the British public in its latest chapter of the smear campaign against me.
A month or so ago it tried, via a politically motivated opponent of mine in the European Parliament, to start a different investigation into my use of EU money. The bureaucracy has belatedly announced – on Monday night – that there was no case to answer, not even enough evidence to request an investigation by Olaf, the European Commission’s anti-fraud office. The very next day The Times opens-up another equally vacuous front.
As a party we have been expecting this; Ukip is doing well in the polls and posing a threat to the status quo. This week’s Times article is based on erroneous second-hand testimony and crass misinterpretation.
The use by The Times of the word “expenses” is a deliberate and cynical attempt to conflate the anger over MPs expenses with the way that MEPs work. I have not claimed any expenses for an office in the UK.
All MEPs are given a fixed allowance of £3,580 per month. They do not have to provide receipts for any of that expenditure, but there is a list that gives suggestions of what the money might be spent on. This includes hotel bills, meeting rooms, mobile phone bills, newspapers, and yes, the cost of an MEP office. Whilst my office has been kindly lent to me by a supporter, there are still associated running costs to pay. Like other UK MEPs, I publish a list of the types of things on which the allowance is spent, this I do entirely voluntarily as I recognise that it is public money.
It is not for me to defend this system: after all, I want it abolished. Ever since 1999, I have expressly stated that Ukip MEPs will use the wherewithal provided by the EU Parliament to campaign for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
In their editorial on Monday, even The Times had to admit that it was “probable” that I have done nothing illegal – I have always said that I will use all legal means to get us out of the EU, and I make absolutely no apologies for using EU money to do it.
In the last 15 years, I have travelled more miles and spoken at more meetings than any other British MEP. I believe that the rise in Eurosceptic opinion demonstrates that putting in the hard effort and mileage has done some good for our cause.
But this week The Times have reached a new low: referring to allegations made by a so-called “whistle-blower” who is currently under a suspended sentence for fraud and forgery. In sentencing her, the judge described her actions in that case as an attempt to “deflect attention from [her] own dishonesty by mounting a wholesale attack on [another Ukip MEP’s] character.”
As if besotted, The Times have published the accusation that I have siphoned money to the Cayman Islands. This is utterly outrageous.
Of course we’re a threat to the Establishment – and it is a sign of the times that that word is now said with an almost audible hiss in the background. We want to limit the power of bureaucracy and quangos and make politicians accountable to the voters. We don’t like the Westminster bubble keeping our lawmakers, newspaper editors and commentators living in a different world to the rest of the country. If they are worried about Ukip’s increasing popularity, they need only look in a mirror to see who to blame.
And if they want to continue to kick the underdog they might be surprised by the results.
Now it’s number plates that Tories are getting in a twist
Which Tory Party are we supposed to vote for? It’s the final “Strasbourg” before the European Elections and as usual the voting sessions are packed with hundreds of votes. including one on the harmonisation of car number plates. This is ostensibly to make it easier to register your car in any EU country but, in reality, I suspect it is to ensure that fines for minor motoring offences can move smoothly across borders.
The Tory group leader, Syed Kamall, has stated that he and his fellow MEPs are against these “idiotic measures” and are voting in line with Ukip MEPs. However his colleague Malcolm Harbour does not seem to agree. The veteran MEP has submitted an amendment to the report calling for even more harmonisation.
The Tories are still split down the middle on the subject of the EU and they spend more time fighting each other than they do bureaucracy. My colleagues and I, on the other hand, make no bones about what we were elected for: to vote against harmonisation legislation, to let people at home know what is being done