, the long-standing leader of the Conservative Party in the European Parliament, has revealed he is to step down from the post in November.
Making the announcement on the Conservative Party’s Blue Blog
, Mr Kirkhope, pictured above on the right, said he was “extremely proud of all that we have achieved in my time as leader”
but has “decided not to offer myself for re-election in the annual elections for positions within our delegation this November.
Mr Kirkhope, who has been leader of the Conservative delegation for the past five years, writes that he intends to focus his efforts on further developing the ECR group
as its Deputy Chairman, working side-by-side with the controversial Michal Kaminski
(pictured far left) of whom he writes “our partnership has worked well and we intend to build on it so that we can continue to raise our profile and enhance our group’s policy-making machinery.
Seemingly all rosy now, during the summer it emerged that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly told Mr Kaminski during a meeting in Number 10 that he wanted him and Kirkhope to have a joint chairmanship of the group for the next five years. Kaminski was, according to one source quoted by Iain Dale
, left "gobsmacked
" by the demand. While his motives remain unknown, one conspiracy touted was that it was Kirkhope’s idea having preciously stepped aside in Kaminski’s favour the previous year.
Mr Kirkhope first became an MEP in 1999 and currently represents the constituency of Yorkshire and the Humber. It was under his tenure than the Conservative Party under instruction from Mr Cameron moved out of the majority EPP group
within the parliament to form the marginalised ECR group.
Nominations to succeed Mr Kirkhope close on November 9th
and the election will be held in Strasbourg on November 23rd
The UK Conservative delegation is 25 members strong and among the possible successors to Kirkhope are the Telegraph’s outspoken blogger Daniel Hannan
, the Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee Malcolm Harbour
and the “often-absent” and “mumbling”
77-year old Derek Clark.