A petition has been launched demanding the resignation of Amjat Bashir as an MEP after he defected from UKIP to the Conservatives at the weekend. The MEP changed sides just nine months after being elected in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
Since the defection serious questions have been raised over his financial propriety and his links to radical Islamists in Pakistan. However, the petition focuses on the system for electing MEP, in which voter choose a party not a candidate. This means Mr Bashir became an MEP because he was on the UKIP list not because anyone voted for him personally.
Over a thousand voters have now called for him to go, with the figure expected to rise sharply over the next few days. If he did resign he would be following the lead of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless who both stood down when they defected from the Conservatives to UKIP but were re-elected with their new party.
The petition read: “Nine months ago, the voters of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire voted for a UKIP MEP to represent them in the European Parliament. It was the political parties themselves that then decided the individuals who would represent them if the party was successful in the elections.
“It is completely undemocratic when the voters voted for UKIP, to find themselves just nine months later with a Conservative MEP. Because UKIP won the election and not Amjad Bashir, he should do the honourable thing and resign.”
If Bashir were to resign the next person on the UKIP list for the region would be automatically elected, and he would have to wait until the next election to run as a Conservative. But when he does run he is now virutally guarenteed the top slot for the Conservatives no matter what local members think of him. This is because as a sitting MEP he will be the only candidate for the first place on the Conservative list once a regional group has signed off his candidature, assuming 69-year-old Timothy Kirkhope MEP stands down.
This competative advantage is thought to be the reason the Liberal Democrat MEP Sajjad Karim defected to the Conservatives when it looked likely he would lose his seat. He was automatically given a top spot on the Conservative list, and he was not even required to tell ordinary party members he had been a Liberal Democrat. Instead his CV listed his elected offices without explaining he had held them for another party.
Under the same rules ordinary Conservative members will have to keep Bashir as long as he wishes to remain an MEP.
The petition comes as pressure is mounting on the Conservatives to allow Bashir to talk to the media. Yesterday a lone protestor dressed as a chicken demanded he be “freed” by the Conservatives, as he is being kept out of the spotlight.
To sign the petition click here.