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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Kilroy: We'll wreck EU Parliament
Robert Kilroy-Silk
Kilroy-Silk: 'UKIP has never engaged in personality politics'
Former TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk says he plans to "wreck" the European Parliament when he sits as an MEP.

He made the pledge just hours after he was elected to the East Midlands for the UK Independence Party.

He would only go to Brussels when "it's important and necessary" and planned to expose the waste, corruption and the way "it's eroding our independence".

The ex-Labour MP is one of 12 UKIP MEPs whose party looks on course for third place in the European polls.

Face of the party

UKIP gained 26.1% of the vote in the East Midlands, just 0.3% behind the Conservatives. It also came second to the Tories in the South West.

The party, which wants complete British withdrawal from the European Union, also doubled its share of the vote in London, claiming its first European seat in the capital.

During a press conference in central London, Mr Kilroy-Silk was asked what he was going to do in the European Parliament when he sits there.

He replied: "Wreck it - expose it for the waste, the corruption and the way it's eroding our independence and our sovereignty.

"Our job is to go there and to say, 'look, this is what they do, this is how they waste your money, this is how they spend it, this is how it gets corrupted, this is how they all go on this kind of gravy train and spend their time in restaurants'," he said.

Reluctant traveller?

Mr Kilroy-Silk later explained that by saying he wanted to "wreck" the parliament, he meant he wanted to "draw attention to its deficiencies".

He denied wanting to replace party leader from Roger Knapman and said it was "patronising" to suggest that people had voted UKIP because of his celebrity.

But he said he would only go to Brussels when it was important and necessary.

"I don't want to go to Brussels. I don't want to be there. I don't want to spend time there, I don't want to be bogged down in either the committees or the restaurants," he said.

"But when it is important, in order to represent the interests of my constituents .... when it's important to advance the interests of my country, then I will be there."

Priorities

The party's advance has been mirrored across Europe, with Eurosceptic and fringe parties making gains.

Mr Knapman said for the first time the majority of the nation agreed with UKIP that political union was not necessary for fair trade.

The party was now taking steps to improve its political capabilities to fight by-elections, referendums and the general election.

  VOTE MEPs  
PARTY +/- % % +/-* TOTAL  
CON
-9.0
26.7
-8
27
LAB
-5.4
22.6
-6
19
UKIP
9.2
16.1
10
12
LD
2.3
14.9
2
12
GRN
0.0
6.3
2
2
BNP
3.9
4.9
0
0
RESP
1.5
1.5
0
0
SNP
-1.3
1.4
0
2
PC
-0.9
1.0
0
1
SSP
0.0
0.4
0
0
OTH
3.2
4.6
+1
3
*Seat change is adjusted to allow a direct comparison with the results from the 1999 election

Mr Kilroy-Silk was repeatedly heckled as he celebrated his triumph in the East Midlands on Sunday night with an acceptance speech.

He said: "Now we know why the British public are fed up with the old parties. They are fed up with being talked to in that simplistic manner.

"They want their country back from Brussels and we are going to get it back for them."

The voters had made it clear that Tony Blair would be acting in "great contempt of the people" if he signed up to the proposed European constitution, he argued.

Conservative MEP Roger Helmer pointed to a newspaper article quoting Mr Kilroy-Silk saying he would spend as little time in Brussels as possible.

Mr Helmer continued: "In other words you would take the money and not do any of the work. The voters deserve more than that."

Labour MEP Phillip Whitehead warned the new MEP not to "play the demagogue".

He added: "The showbiz elements have raised the profile of the East Midlands but we have to argue beyond the politics of paranoia."

Internal squabbling

The former TV presenter countered that UKIP were the only party which had never engaged in "personality politics".

Mr Kilroy-Silk has been the face of UKIP since his European candidature was announced earlier this year.

The showbiz elements have raised the profile of the East Midlands but we have to argue beyond the politics of paranoia
Labour MEP Phillip Whitehead

His TV chat show was axed by the BBC after comments he made about Arabs in a Sunday newspaper column.

UKIP's rise has been dramatic. It polled just 1.5% of the vote in the 2001 general election and four years earlier was beaten by Sir James Goldsmith's Eurosceptic Referendum Party.

The party was originally born out of the divisions within the Conservative Party over the Maastricht Treaty in the early 1990s.

It was founded by London School of Economics history professor Alan Sked as the Anti-Federalist League.

Dr Sked quit amid internal squabbling after the party's poor showing in the 1997 general election.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP, UK Independence Party
"All I want to do is to give my country back to its people"



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