A letter to my MEPs as we approach a referendum on UK membership of the EU

The EU and our membership of it was positioned high on a list of key issues during the general election, often as something to blame when talking about immigration but also as a drain on our budget. Will we ever get a balanced view presented or will we sleepwalk into a referendum steered by negative press and biased views? I decided to write to my MEPs (there are six of them but until I checked on writetothem.com I couldn’t name one) to find out what they do and how I might find out about that. Like me letters to me MP Mel Stride I hope this will be interesting and I’ll hopefully keep in touch.


Dear William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Molly Scott Cato, Julie Girling, Julia Reid, Clare Moody and Ashley Fox,
I find myself increasingly dismayed with the position the UK is taking on Europe and membership of the EU.

UKIP have obviously taken an anti EU stance for some time and while I respect the right of individuals and parties to oppose EU membership however flimsy the reasoning, I object to politicians taking a salary and claiming expenses but not representing our interests in Europe. It seems dishonest and also fraudulent to do so. The Conservative party sway between being wholeheartedly in favour of membership and then openly critical of it, perhaps to tempt back voters they believe lost to UKIP on the issue.

I believe it is the responsibility of politicians to present a balanced argument yet on the Europe question yet I don’t see much balance on this issue and this concerns me – if only a negative picture is shown, how will the electorate be able to make an informed decision on membership? Perhaps the mainstream parties are gearing up to this but in the meantime where is the positive message or indeed any message from my MEPs? How do I know what you each do, how often you do it and what you achieve in office?

How often are you present in the parliament? How do you represent your SW constituents and how do you balance your party interests with those of your constituents? Where do you report back to us? I hope you can find the time to get back to me on this.

Yours sincerely,

Rich Mills


7 thoughts on “A letter to my MEPs as we approach a referendum on UK membership of the EU

  1. BTW – who knew we have 6x MEPs in the South West and they also represent Gibraltar? They are:

    Ashley Fox (Conservative)
    Clare Moody (Labour)
    William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (UKIP)
    Julie Girling (Conservative)
    Julia Reid (UKIP)
    Molly Scott Cato (Green)


  2. The first reply I received was from Clare Moody MP which I reproduce below.

    Dear Rich

    Thank you for your email regarding the European Union. It is encouraging to see people taking such an active interest in the workings of the EU. I strongly believe that Britain’s place should be within the EU. However, that is not to say that the EU is perfect and there are ways in which it can, and should, be reformed.

    As an MEP my time is split between Brussels/Strasbourg and my constituency. Within the constituency I support local projects and jobs, help businesses trade within the EU, and help constituents who have problems with other EU countries.

    Within the European Parliament I sit on three committees; the Budget Committee, the Industry, Trade, Research and Energy Committee, and the Gender Equality Committee. I work alongside other Labour MEPs from the UK, as well as colleagues within the Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament. I believe that one of the most important aspects of the EU is the ability for us to work alongside other countries to achieve positive outcomes for the benefit of all citizens.

    I regularly keep my website updated with the work that I, and other Labour MEPs, are doing in the European Parliament. My website can be found here: http://www.claremoodymep.com. I also often write to local, regional, and national newspapers on current issues in the EU. What and when news of the European Parliament is issued locally will always be determined by an editorial agenda but some outlets do feature a regular column from each of our region’s six MEPs.

    I agree with your analysis that reporting on the EU tends to concentrate on the negative arguments put forward by UKIP. However, as you might be aware, the South West benefits enormously from EU funding. Already this year, Labour MEPs have worked to prevent millions of pounds of EU funds intended to help some of Britain’s poorest areas (including Cornwal) from being lost after significant failures by the British government left huge sums unspent in 2014. Labour MEPs have also worked hard to establish new European initiatives that will help protect British interests in a number of ways, such as the introduction of mandatory food origin labelling that will both support local producers and help avoid another horse-meat scandal, securing new EU procedures that will make it easier to bring non-UK drivers who break British traffic laws to justice.

    I won’t comment on the activities of other parties’ MEPs but, if you are interested, I would encourage you to visit the http://www.votewatch.eu, where you win find more information on your MEPs’ attendance and voting records.

    With the upcoming EU referendum it is important, now more than ever, that we must highlight the important work the EU does and the benefits that membership brings to everyone in the UK. I will be at the forefront of making the case for the EU in the South West and I hope that you will join me.

    I hope that this email has answered your query. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

    With best wishes

    Clare Moody
    Labour MEP for the South West and Gibraltar
    Twitter @ClareMoodyMEP Facebook: ClareMoodyMEP


  3. 2nd reply came from Ashley Fox and here it is. Please read it, it’s proof that MEPs are acting for us –

    Dear Mr Mills,

    Thank you for contacting me about the UK’s membership of the European Union and what I do on behalf on my constituents in the South West of England & Gibraltar.

    The Government has been absolutely clear in its position on EU membership – we should let Britain decide through an in-out referendum. The EU needs to change and it is time for the British people, not politicians, to have their say. That is why, as the Prime Minister made clear in the Conservative Manifesto, the Government will legislate in the first session of this Parliament for an in-out referendum to be held on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017.

    However, before this takes place, we need to attempt to negotiate a new settlement that focuses on what matters to the people of Britain and Europe. This includes competitiveness; flexibility and fairness for all member states, whether inside the Eurozone or out of it; more respect for national democracies and, crucially, recognition that powers should be able to flow back to member states, not just away from them.

    I will be monitoring the negotiations with interest and my final decision as to whether to campaign to remain a part of the EU or leave will be determined by the deal that is struck. Never the less I am proud that the Government is sticking up for Britain’s interests at home and abroad and welcome this opportunity for the people to decide on the country’s future.

    Moving on to myself and what I do, I was first elected to the European Parliament in 2009 and was re-elected in 2014. I am currently the Leader of the Conservative MEPs as of November 2014 and as a British Conservative I am a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) where I served as Chief Whip from 2010 – 2014.

    I am a member of the Industry, Research & Energy Committee and the Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, and am also the leading British campaigner seeking to scrap the wasteful ‘Strasbourg Circus’ – which costs taxpayers €156m every year. The attendance and participation rates for MEPs is monitored by http://www.votewatch.eu, my record can be found at http://www.votewatch.eu/en/term8-ashley-fox-2.html. As you can see I have participated in 905 put of 908 roll call votes (ranking me 29th out of 750 MEPs).

    I produce a monthly e-newsletter which I send out to everyone who subscribes via my website. I would be happy to add you to that list of subscribers if you would be interested. It covers what is happening in Brussels and some of what I have been doing on your behalf.

    Yours sincerely,

    Ashley Fox


  4. here’s the 3rd reply from Julie Girling. Again, like the responses of her colleagues Ashley Fox and Clare Moody, it is worth reading

    Dear Mr Mills

    Thank you for your email.

    I can assure you that as your MEP I am working hard daily to fight for your interests in the European Parliament.

    The issue of whether the UK should continue its membership of the EU is a long running one. I believe that we have to have a referendum if we are to create a vision for the future and stop the shouting from the side-lines. I believe we should remain in the EU but not at any cost. The EU must be reformed if we are to continue our involvement within it. I fully support the plan to negotiate a new relationship with the EU and then allow the British people to have their say. I will be campaigning to remain in the EU.

    Regarding UKIP, unfortunately they are not working for the good of Europe in the Parliament nor are they working for the good of the UK. They do not actively participate and are most certainly damaging the reputation of Britain in Europe. They want the UK to be out of Europe without any care for the consequences nor for the damage caused on the way.

    I believe in the UK being part of a strong Europe, one that serves our needs but knows its boundaries. Part of my role as a MEP is to work to that end and I can assure you that British Conservative MEPs here in Brussels are not only monitoring what is going on in Europe but also fighting to make it better for the UK.

    The key role of a MEP is, of course, to assist in the scrutiny of legislation and where this work really happens is in Committee. In the previous mandate I sat on a number of Committees including Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment. In my tenure as a MEP I have been working on the renegotiation of the Common Agricultural Policy, reforming the Common Fisheries Policy and many other detailed legislative areas. I am currently leading discussions for the Conservatives in the European Parliament on air quality legislation.

    It is a frustration that this process is so little understood as many of our political opponents who grandstand about the EU actually don’t bother to attend Committee, therefore directly act against the interests of the UK in Europe. Committee is where the work really happens, where MEPs must actively engage and actively participate. It is a disgrace that UKIP frequently do not.

    You can view the parliamentary activity of any MEP via http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/map.html

    I report back to constituents through my website http://www.juliegirling.com, and online I provide regular updates through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. My recent video blogs which are produced monthly can be found at

    Conservatives in the European Parliament are part of the ECR Group ande you can find more information about the group here: http://ecrgroup.eu/

    I will add your email address to my mailing list so that you don’t miss out on news from me in the European Parliament.

    Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Julie Girling
    MEP for the South West of England & Gibraltar
    Environment, Public Health & Food Safety
    Agriculture and Rural Development
    Women’s Rights & Gender Equality


  5. I received a reply from Green SW MEP Molly Scott Cato via her constituency coordinator Alex, as below:

    Dear Rich,
    Many thanks for your e-mail to Molly and apologies for the delay in getting back to you. She has asked me to respond to you on her behalf and let you know a bit about the Green position on an EU referendum. Greens have a ‘Three Yeses’ policy to Europe – yes to to a referendum, yes to major EU reform and yes to staying in a reformed Europe. You can see more about this position here>>.
    Greens feel that there is a lot that needs to be reformed in the EU and Molly and her Green colleagues from the UK and across Europe work hard to reform the system. Greens believe in subsidiarity, or making decisions at the most local level possible. However we also recognise that there are decisions (such as on climate change, human rights and trade) that are better made at European or International level. Therefore having a democratic, transparent and reformed EU is crucial.

    The Greens will be campaigning to ensure that the benefits of being within the union are clear to the electorate, to ensure an informed decision can be made on membership. To this end the national party are recruiting a post to lead on this area. In the meantime there is some useful information already available to the public on the benefits of Euro membership on the following web site: http://www.britishinfluence.org/

    As for your query with regard to understanding more about the work of MEPs. Each MEP should have a website detailing work undertaken i.e. committees they sit on in Europe, current campaigns, and constituency work, this is the link to Molly’s web site: http://mollymep.org.uk/ where you can also sign up to her E newsletter. It is also possible to see how your MEPS vote on various issues through vote watch: http://www.votewatch.eu/search.php.

    I hope that this has helped to answer some of your questions.

    Kind Regards,
    Alex Machin
    Constituency Coordinator


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