The longest-standing Tory MEP has been expelled from David Cameron’s new grouping in the European Parliament for standing against the official vice-president candidate, from the ‘homophobic’ Polish Law and Justice Party.
Edward McMillan-Scott told PinkNews.co.uk that the party’s record on gay rights was “part of the picture” of why he defied orders.
He ran against Michal Kaminski, a Polish Law and Justice Party MEP, in a vote for vice-presidents of the Parliament.
McMillan-Scott, the MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, was elected as an independent vice-president of the Parliament but Kaminski failed to win a post, leaving the group as the only one without a vice-president.
He has previously expressed concerns over the grouping with the “extreme rightwingers”. The Polish Law and Justice Party has been accused of homophobia, antisemitism and racism.
One of its MEPs, Konrad Szymanskitold, said earlier this month: “Law and Justice has a clear stand on this issue – we are against both homosexual marriages and the adoption of children by gays and lesbians. That is how our Euro MEPs will always vote.
McMillan-Scott told PinkNews.co.uk: “I’m not saying any more than I regard Kaminski as an unsuitable candidate.
“Not that’s he’s homophobic – he certainly says he isn’t – but his party are. That’s part of the picture. They ban gay Pride marches. That’s basically it.
“As vice-president, your duties are to represent are to represent the European Parliament and sit on international forums. You’ve got to have a steady political background. I didn’t know his background when he was elected.”
In an interview with the BBC’s On the Record yesterday, Kaminski was asked about claims he was homophobic.
He said: “It’s not the case, that’s true that I’m – as many politicians- I’m just opposing and that’s true it’s my personal convictions, I’m opposing the so-called marriages for the homosexual couples but I have a deep respect for the people with a homosexual way of life.
“You can never find anything I said in my past against the homosexuals. I think that its almost impossible to find it because I’m a democrat. I’m a convinced Conservative and I have a liberal approach to the way of life the people are choosing.”
A Tory spokesman said: “Mr McMillan-Scott had his whip suspended when he indicated he was putting in his nomination for vice president of the European Parliament which was not in accordance with the decision of the delegation to support another person for that post.
“He was offered the opportunity to withdraw his name to avoid harming the reputation of the Conservative Party.
“Despite discussions and attempts to achieve this end, he went ahead and confirmed his nomination when voting commenced. At that point, as he had received prior warning of the consequences, the Conservative whip was withdrawn.”
Cameron’s Conservative and Reformist Group is thought to be the joint fourth-largest bloc in the new European Parliament. It has 55 members – 26 Conservative MEPs, 15 MEPs from the Law and Justice Party and nine MEPs from the Czech Republic’s ODS (Civil Democrats) party, along with five others from Belgium, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Latvia.