Giles Chichester MEP is the new leader of the Tory MEPs.

By one vote he ousted Timothy Kirkhope.  Mr Kirkhope had hoped that his part in securing the defection of Sajjad Karim would save his embattled leadership but he lost today’s vote of the Tory MEPs by just one vote.  Mr Karim is thought to have voted for Mr Kirkhope.  Advisers to David Cameron had wanted to delay Mr Karim’s defection until closer to the election of the new LibDem leader but were over-ruled.

Philip Bushill-Matthews will be Deputy Leader (replacing Robert Atkins) of the delegation and Syed Kamall will be Treasurer.

Dan Hannan abstained in the vote after neither Chichester nor Kirkhope would commit to making a public statement in favour of David Cameron’s commitment to leaving the EPP – once either were elected.  The minority Eurosceptic MEPs had grown increasingly frustrated at what they have seen as foot-dragging by Mr Kirkhope on EPP exit plans and the building of a new reform movement within the European Parliament.  It is unlikely that that situation will change much with Giles Chichester as the new Chairman of the Delegation.  Mr Chichester, as a fresh leader, has the opportunity of rebuilding relations within the unhappy delegation, however.  Attitudes to Mr Kirkhope had become poisonous.  In a significant nod towards the Eurosceptic MEPs, Mr Chichester promised to replace Richard Ashworth with Den Dover as delegation whip.

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