Another day, another prominent supporter for a Leave vote in the referendum. This time it’s Syed Kamall, MEP for London and leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists, the most senior Conservative in Brussels.
He explains his decision in the following statement:
“I think the Prime Minister got the best deal available. Whatever the result of the referendum he has probably done more than any other Prime Minister to redefine our relationship with the EU. He deserves great credit for that and for delivering the referendum.
“However, after much thought, my personal decision is that we should leave the EU. Not because I think David Cameron did a bad job, but because I believe that on balance we could forge a better future outside.
“Ultimately the key issue for me is immigration. I want to see a Britain where everyone can achieve their ambitions whether they come from a wealthy or poorer background. Equally, I would like an immigration policy that is balanced and fair – where we treat people equally whether they are from an EU country or not. Sadly, a fair immigration system is incompatible with membership of the EU.”
“I am the son of immigrants from outside the EU – this matters to me deeply. I always tell aspiring politicians to be true to their consciences – so I must be true to mine. Ultimately I would favour a points-based immigration system where your ability is more important than which country you come from. Unfortunately, you cannot have that in the EU.”
“My decision is a personal one and separate from my leadership of the ECR. I will do everything I can to make sure that secondary legislation supporting the PM’s deal gets through the parliament safely.”
Syed is very well-liked among the Tory grassroots in the capital, and was closely involved in the renegotiation process, so he’s a great catch for the Leave campaign. There had been mounting speculation about which way he would go (including two UKIP MEPs betting on his decision – Gerard Batten now owes Paul Nuttall €50).
Notably, Kamall’s point about wanting an equal and fair immigration system was one of the key issues I picked out last week when reporting that the majority of ethnic minority Conservative MPs are backing Leave.