The UKIP defence spokesman has been snubbed by a government minister after writing to the Queen to protest the fact the party will be barred form officially attending Sunday’s Remembrance Service, held to honour the memory of British and Commonwealth war dead.
Wreaths will be laid at the cenotaph by Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Westminster leader Nigel Dodds and Scottish National Party Westminster leader Angus Robertson.
The DUP won 184,260 votes in May, just 0.6 per cent of the vote. UKIP, meanwhile, won nearly 4 million representing nearly 13 per cent of the vote. However, according to the First Past The Post system, which rewards concentrations of votes not overall numbers, they have eight seats to UKIP’s one.
According to rules laid down in the 1980s, parties must have at least six MP’s before they are allowed to take part. Those with between two and five MPs can attend but without being granted the privilege of laying a wreath.
So UKIP Nigel Farage and his and their lone MP, Douglas Carswell, will be officially barred from proceedings, with Culture Secretary John Whittingdale confirming to the party that there are no plans to change the rules.
UKIP MEP and defence spokesman Mike Hookem wrote to Mr Whittingdale, whose department organises the ceremony, to voice his dismay. He told the Express the decision failed to take into account the huge support UKIP found at the election.
“It also seems convenient for the Government that they can so easily dismiss the largest group of UK MEPs who were elected from our party when it comes to including us in national events, but like to wax lyrical about the importance of our influence in the European Union when it comes to discussing our membership.
“Either we’re in and Cameron thinks MEPs are important in the democratic process and should be taken into consideration or we’re out and Cameron admits that the European Union is fundamentally undemocratic.”
Mr Whittingdale’s response to Mr Hookem insisted on blunt adherence to the rules laid down in 1984:
“As the UK Independence Party hold one parliamentary seat at Westminster, unfortunately under the current arrangements they are not invited to attend Remembrance Sunday,” he wrote.