Whether or not Jens-Peter Bonde does decide to remove Vladimir Mercia from the ranks of the EDD (see post below), he is already certain to lose another MEP from his team.
The departing figure is Ashley Mote, one of UKIP’s South-East Region MEPs. He is facing trial in November on eight counts of theft and false accounting relating to the claiming of housing benefit. The sums involved are said to be in the order of £70,000.
Since Mote did not inform his own party of the impending prosecution, he was in breach of the party’s selection rules, but he has nevertheless refused to stand down. In desperation, party chiefs have now decided to withdraw the whip from Mote, which means that he will also be expelled from the EDD.
However, under the arcane election rules for MEPs, Mote cannot be removed from his seat, so he will remain an MEP – as did former UKIP leader and MEP Michael Holmes when he resigned the party after being elected in the 1999 elections. Holmes finally resigned as MEP in 2003, to be replaced with Graham Booth.
The news of Mote’s departure will undoubtedly be embarrassing for UKIP, not least as the party stands on a platform of rooting out corruption and dishonesty in the EU. However, having now removed the Mote, it will possibly be better equipped to remove the beam, albeit with reduced ranks of 11 MEPs.