A leading South West Conservative has attacked UKIP MEPs for taking a salary from Brussels but failing to properly represent candidates.
Julie Girling, the chief whip of the Tory group at the European Parliament and second on the party list for the May election, blasted elected members of the party
“I find their attitude appalling – it is just as costly to have a UKIP MEP but they are not working and I find it astonishing that they think this is alright,” she added.
“I don’t get paid to pontificate about Britain’s place in Europe, though it is very interesting, and it makes me really angry as it is not why people elected them.”
As a protest party in Europe, UKIP has repeatedly come under fire for its attendance and voting record
South West representative, Trevor Colman has admitted one of the only reasons he attends the is to ensure he still gets his £200,000 allowances.
Mr Coleman, 72, has taken part in just 52% of all votes during five years, making only just 17 speeches and asking two questions
William Dartmouth, another South West member has made a total of 673 submissions.
Gawain Towler, UKIP’s media spokesman who is hoping to take his place representing the South West at the Parliament this year, defended the work of his party’s MEPs.
He said they were sent to Brussels to change the debate not “the size of a widget”.
“Nobody elects these people to fight their corner on a particular piece of legislation,” he added.
To look at how busy we have been as MEPs and how many amendments we have laid down is not the matrix on how we judge our effectiveness.
“We are changing the debate – there is no way Cameron would be offering a referendum if not for UKIP – we are not elected to change the size of a widget.”
Sir Graham Watson, sitting Liberal Democrat MEP and top of his party list for re-election, said he was fighting the election campaign on jobs and the benefits of membership for Devon and Cornwall.
“Over 59% of Westcountry exports go to Europe,” he added. “It is our biggest market and we must be in to safeguard jobs and investment. Plans by UKIP and many Conservative MPs to pull out will damage confidence in future investment. Cornwall for instance gets more out of Europe than it puts in and has just been given a £500 million investment from the EU for the next six years."