In theory, they still might not even happen if the Conservative government and Labour reach an agreement to get a Brexit deal through the House of Commons in time. But polling cards for elections to the European Parliament on 23 May are already falling through letterboxes, and most of the parties have their candidate lists in order. Nominations close tomorrow. The UK has 73 European Parliament seats, of which eight are for the London region. At the last European elections in 2014, UKIP won the highest number of seats nationally, but only one in London. Labour took four seats in the capital, the Conservatives two and the Green Party, one. Who is hoping to occupy those eight seats this time?
Nigel Farage’s new electoral vehicle is topping national opinion polls, which may or may not mean something or other at this stage. One thing we do know is that a recent YouGov poll for Queen Mary University of London found that a massive 67 per cent of Londoners would never, ever vote for UKIP. That poll was conducted before the Brexit Party showed up and at a time when UKIP was cuddling up to the so-called “Tommy Robinson”. But even the Farage-led UKIP struggled to make electoral impact in the capital, notwithstanding getting two people on to the London Assembly in 2016 under the “Londonwide” proportional representation part of the poll (both have since left the party).
Can the Brexit Party do better? Top of their list of candidates for the London is Ben Habib, founder and chief executive of the First Property Group. You can get to know him on Twitter. Second on the list is Lance Forman, who runs a celebrated salmon smokehouse at the fringe of the Olympic Park. His family business has operated from various East London sites since 1905 and he fought a long battle with the authorities over the business’s forced relocation from a spot the London Stadium now occupies. He seems to have hit it off with Boris Johnson, to whom he once gave a generous sample of his product (a “side of smoked salmon” was properly declared by the then Mayor on the GLA website). Keen-eyed visitors to Forman’s office have spotted a framed photo of Margaret Thatcher meeting Ronald Reagan. Forman has called for a “no deal” Brexit and says politicians have “totally disregarded” the referendum result and that he’s standing for the Brexit Party “to save democracy“.
Change UK – The Independent Group
The other new party in the Euro race held its national launch in Bristol yesterday, where it was revealed that author and former BBC journalist Gavin Esler will top the party’s list of London region candidates. Commentator Ian Dunt, a passionate Remainer, exempted Esler from his criticism of the party’s messaging, describing his speech as “impressive in terms of content and delivery” and articulating “a kind of liberal populism”.
Second on the list is Jan Vincent-Rostowski, also known as Jacek Rostowski, who was born in London to a Polish exile family in 1951. He went on to serve as government minister in Poland from 2007 until 2013 under the premiership of Donald Tusk, better known these days as president of the European Council. Vincent-Rostowski was named 2009’s European Finance Minister of the Year by The Banker magazine. His Wikipedia entry describes him as “a believer in free markets” and a “fiscal and social conservative”.
He is followed by former Labour MEP Carole Tongue, former Lib Dem turned leader of the Kensington & Chelsea-based Renew Party Annabel Mullin, and vice chair of Liberal Judaism Karen Newman. Also on the list are Nora Mulready, co-director of a rights and welfare charity and former researcher for Tottenham MP David Lammy who left Labour in disgust at its capture by Corbynites and, in eighth and final place, Matrix Chambers barrister Jessica Simor.
Top of the Tory list is sitting MEP and former London Mayor hopeful Syed Kamall, followed by his MEP colleague Charles Tannock. Then comes Ealing councillor Joy Morrissey who was shortlisted to be Tory mayoral candidate for 2020. On London interviewed her at that time. Westminster councillor Timothy Barnes is fourth on the Conservative list. See the full squad at Conservative Home.
The Green octet is headed by Lambeth councillor Scott Ainslie, with Gulnar Hasnain, who worked on climate change polices at at City Hall between 2004 and 2011, in second position. The full Green list is here.
Two of Labour’s current MEPs, Claude Moraes and Seb Dance are on the two top rungs, and then it all gets Very Jeremy. According to Huffington Post, Corbyn’s former political secretary Katy Clark, described by one unhappy insider as a “Lexiteer”, was pushed up the list into third place following an intervention by party officials. Labour looks at some risk of losing one of its four seats due to its facilitation of Brexit and conditional stance on supporting a second referendum. Momentumite Laura Parker is in fourth position and former London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi, now chair of the Stop The War Coalition, is fifth.
The Lib Dems, currently without a London region seat, will certainly hope to get on the scoresheet this time. Their London list is headed by lawyer and human rights activist Irina Von Wiese from Hammersmith. Ebookers founder Dinesh Dhamija is second and Camden’s Luisa Porritt, third. An interesting inclusion further down is Tower Hamlets councillor Rabina Khan, who led on housing policy under the ill-fated Tower Hamlets mayoralty of Lutfur Rahman before forming her own local party then becoming a Lib Dem (she was not implicated in the electoral law legal case that led to Rahman’s downfall).
United Kingdom Independence Party
Sitting London region MEP Gerard Batten, now UKIP’s leader, insists his is still the authentic party of Brexit. He’s at the top of his party’s London list, with software developer Richard Braine, a man know to wear a bowler hat, second.
Last updated on 15 May, 2019.
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