`Freeloaders?' Your must be Eurojoking!

LAST week, I gave space to some trenchant comments from the veteran and highly respected Westminster journalist Chris Moncrieff, who called everyone who works for Europe – including MEPs – a bunch of "freeloaders.

LAST week, I gave space to some trenchant comments from the veteran and highly respected Westminster journalist Chris Moncrieff, who called everyone who works for Europe - including MEPs - a bunch of "freeloaders."

Three of the seven Euro MPs from this region have taken up my challenge to rebut this. UKIP's Jeffrey Titford is indignant: "It is becoming increasingly irritating that we EU-realist MEPs are constantly being pressed to justify taking the salary and expenses that go with the job. Meanwhile our Europhile colleagues from other parties, who work assiduously to promote the interests of `the European project,' over and above those of their own country, seem to be under far less pressure to justify their existence.

"What tends to be forgotten is that I and my fellow UKIP MEPs were elected on a platform of withdrawal from the European Union. We see it as our duty to those who voted for us, to use the political profile that comes with elected office to expose the EU for what it is - a gigantic con trick that threatens the very existence of our nation. We want to put an end to the whole expensive charade including the `gravy train' of MEP salaries and expenses."

UKIP's Tom Wise adds: "The Commission is the most unaccountable bureaucracy I have ever met. Cronies of Prime Ministers are appointed as Commissioners and report to no one, save the anointed President.


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"The EU accounts have not been signed off or accepted for the past ten years. Fraud and corruption are endemic. Given that background, who would not continue to line their pockets at every opportunity? Mr Moncrieff has done us all a service."

Tory Geoffrey Van Orden, a noted Eurosceptic, writes "Naturally I reject any implication of `freeloading.' The 78 British MEPs are paid more or less the same as MPs. The unelected Eurocrats - the civil servants of the European Commission, Parliament and Council - are not only more numerous (26,740!) but they are paid more and their role and conditions of service are entirely different. They are the engine of European integration. Not surprisingly, I have long argued for a reduction in their numbers."

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Mr Van Orden insists that, unlike the Eurocrats, the role of an elected MEP is to represent the views of his or her constituents and to campaign for political objectives in which he or she believes. "The Eurocrats are slaves to the European Project, while I travel to Brussels and Strasbourg to work positively on behalf of our local businesses and citizens, at the same time fighting against political integration, excessive regulation, fraud and mismanagement."

JOHN Humphreys, presenter of the Today programme on Radio 4, has fallen foul of Downing Street's thought police for telling jokes against Labour politicians. Here's an example: "I said to someone `why do you take an instant dislike to Peter Mandelson" and he said `it saves time.'

Carry on, John.

KENNETH Clarke is the overwhelming choice of ordinary voters for leader of the Conservative Party, according to a poll released last night for BBC2's Newsnight. It found 40% of those questioned thought Clarke would make the best leader for the party - four times as many as the favourite David Davis, who claimed the support of just 10%.

The poll suggests Mr Davis, known as a hardliner on the right of the party, might actually drive voters away from the Tories.

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