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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
UKIP takes up its European seats
Robert Kilroy-Silk of UKIP
Robert Kilroy Silk was elected MEP for the East Midlands
The UK Independence Party has begun its campaign to bring "Britain back from Brussels", as its MEPs take up their seats in the European Parliament.

Eleven UKIP MEPs joined 730 others from 25 nations at the parliamentary building in Strasbourg on the first day of this five-year parliament.

The party's aim is to take Britain out of the European Union.

UKIP won 12 seats in June's European elections, but has suspended one MEP in the midst of fraud claims.

Ashley Mote is facing nine counts of alleged housing benefit fraud.

He has had the party whip withdrawn and now sits as an independent in the European parliament.

UKIP MEPs are to sit with the euro sceptic political group in the parliament known as Independence and Democracies.

Euro sceptic group

This group of more than 30 MEPS from several states is determined to fight the planned EU Constitution and prevent the creation of any so-called EU super state.

UKIP is the only party in the group which wants to achieve withdrawal from the EU as a whole.

EUROSCEPTICS IN STRASBOURG
1 UK Independence Party - 11
2 June Movement (Denmark) - 1
3 Christian Union (Holland) - 2
4 Movement for France - 3
5 June List (Sweden) - 3
6 League of Polish Families - 10
7 Independent (Ireland) - 1
8 Civic Democrats (Czech) - 1
9 Achilles Association (Greece)-1

  • Independence and Democracy (ID) is a new parliamentary group of hardline Eurosceptics
  • It rejects the EU constitution and the "centralisation of Europe"
  • It says it opposes xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and discrimination
  • As a result, the Independence and Democracies group will have two presidents representing the two strands of thinking.

    One is UKIP's Nigel Farage, and the other is Dane Jens-Peter Bonde.

    The celebrity face of the party, Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP, claims the EU is a threat to national sovereignty and that the European parliament has no relevance to Britain.

    "Our prime, most important task is to get our country back from Brussels," Mr Kilroy-Silk said.

    "That is why we are here and for no other reason.

    "We have no other function, no other purpose. We want to govern ourselves," he added.

    Mr Farage has already said the party would take its full entitlement to salaries and expense allowances, which will be used to hit back at Brussels and to boost UKIP in Britain.

    But Labour MEP for the South East Peter Skinner predicted UKIP would soon fall apart: "Just one month after being elected we are already seeing this rag tag band of euro-sceptics coming apart at the seams.

    "UKIP now go down from 12 members to 11. At this rate we can expect the party to be on the verge of extinction by Christmas."

    Ashley Mote
    Mr Mote faces allegations of housing benefit fraud

    The leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European Parliament, Graham Watson, said the party represented a "mass of contradictions" which would be exposed.

    "They say they want to withdraw from the European Union but they will work with people who have no such agenda," said Mr Watson.

    His comments come as his party's British 12 MEPs claim the European Parliament is more effective, efficient and democratic than the House of Commons.

    They also say MEPs are more independent and accountable than their Westminster counterparts, in a pamphlet being submitted to the Commons Modernisation Committee.




    SEE ALSO:
    UKIP seeks more Euro seats
    12 May 04  |  Politics
    UKIP makes big gains in Euro poll
    14 Jun 04  |  Politics
    UKIP suspends fraud trial Euro MP
    16 Jul 04  |  Politics


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