Tomorrow will almost certainly see Timothy Kirkhope re-elected as Leader of the Tory MEPs and Robert Atkins re-elected as Deputy Leader. Both are facing challenges, however. Chris Heaton-Harris is challenging for the leadership and Martin Callanan for the deputy leadership. Syed Kamall is challenging for a seat on what is called the bureau. The two Eurosceptic challengers will do well to win a third of the votes of the MEPs as they seek to lead the delegation to be more in tune with the Euroscepticism of the Tory grassroots and the nation as a whole.
In his letter to his fellow MEPs (which you can read at the bottom of this post) Mr Heaton-Harris emphasises the following dimensions to his candidacy:
- He is a term-limited candidate because he has been adopted as the Westminster Tory candidate for Daventry.
- He wants to secure the chairmanship of the Environment Committee so that David Cameron’s environmental agenda can be pushed across the EU. He says that he is willing to trade slots on other committees to achieve this.
- He hopes to encourage MEPs to take the lead in social action projects across the region so that Conservatives enjoy profile in seats that are not currently represented by the Tories at Westminster.
- Better whipping to avoid another farce whereby Tory MEPs recently voted for the euro.
- The letter also notes the need for more commitment to working with the Czech ODS and the new Movement for European Reform. Some Eurosceptic MEPs fear that their current leadership team is not doing enough to prepare the intellectual and organisational ground for the delayed exit from the EPP.