Dear Members of the NEC,
It is with great disappointment that I must respond today to the anti-democratic and baseless call for me to have the party whip removed if I fail to either resign from an elected position or stand down as Leader of UKIP in Wales.
The NEC’s demands are ostensibly based on a desire to hold me to an alleged pledge to give up my role as an MEP if elected to the Assembly – but such desires ignore the dramatic change in circumstances since the Welsh elections and the result of the referendum. In exercising my mandate (in the Assembly and the European Parliament) I must take account of those new circumstances, and it is not for the NEC to inform me how to fulfill the mandate that I have been given by the electorate.
Had the NEC been operating in a way that places the party’s long-term interests above divisive factional preferences and private whims, I would not have expected a decision of this magnitude to be made at a time when both the leader of the party and its chairman are in the process of being replaced. But it would seem this is not the case, and I have at my disposal evidence to corroborate that such unreasonable behaviour by the NEC is not isolated.
Let me make it expressly clear why, were I indeed afforded any hearing as the law of natural justice would require, I am not going to be coerced by the NEC into resigning positions to which I have been either elected by the people of Wales or appointed by the party leader:
- There is no heir apparent to the position of UKIP’s MEP in Wales. Two of the candidates on the shortlist below me are also AM’s and could, just as easily as I have, be charged with ‘double-jobbing’ – moreover they have expressed publicly that they do not wish to take on the role. The final candidate on the list left the party to work for another party directly competing with UKIP in the Assembly elections and therefore is either not a member or could only have membership of mere weeks, both would make him ineligible as a potential candidate. There would therefore be no UKIP Wales MEP (a gross democratic deficit given Wales voted by majority to leave the EU) and spark a by-election at a significant expense to the taxpayer for a role that is due to terminate in the near future.
- A by-election would lead to two very substantial costs to: (1) UKIP, who may be asked to reimburse European Parliament group moneys allocated according to the number of MEPs thereby costing the party tens of thousands of pounds (2) more significantly the Welsh taxpayer, who would have to foot the bill for any by-election that would by law have to be held as a result of the position of MEP being left vacant, I understand that this cost may be in the region of £5m. This would clearly be nonsensical, given that the position of MEP is now subject to curtailed tenure, but European law requires it.
- I also regard resignation from the Assembly role I was elected to fulfill would be gross dereliction of duty at the behest of a tiny number of UKIP members who sit on the NEC. As the Leader of UKIP in Wales, a position bestowed on me by the Party Leader who remains in place until the new leader is elected, I was the face of the national campaign in Wales: taking part in all the major live television debates, and representing the party as the leader to the electorate, a role I serve with great pride. My commitment is therefore to the voter first and foremost, rather than the predilections of individuals on the NEC.
- Taking on both roles is not something I do with levity and there is no personal gain, nor private financial advantage to me for holding two elected positions. However, I must now act as a vital bridge between Brussels and the Welsh Assembly while Brexit negotiations take place.
- I find the execution of the NEC’s instruction unfathomable. The very idea that an individual on the party’s NEC can gather a majority of support by corralling other NEC members without me being permitted to offer counter-argument, based on what I believe may have been the propagation of slander (for example, regarding my religion), and then declare this a fait accompli by instructing the party’s General Secretary to send to me a prepared letter, is audacious at least. A decision of such weight should require full consideration of the Chairman (currently outgoing and due to be replaced), the Leader (currently outgoing and due to be replaced) and the NEC (of which a number of members are due to be replaced in next month), following long and thorough deliberation over the impact on both the party and the electorate. The subsequent leaking to the media of the intention to pursue this course of action does not crystallise it in fact. Instead these actions undermine due process and risk giving the impression that the NEC’s decision is ill-considered and a biased attempt to exploit its narrow window of caretaker governance to force through decisions for which it does not have authority either under the party’s constitution or in law.
After a decade of committed service to the party, having run the campaign in Wales as the UKIP Leader, securing 7 seats in the Assembly, and with an entirely clean track record, to seek to remove me from the party, given the consequences of these actions, would be extremely injurious to the reputation of UKIP.
In conclusion: the above consequences, brought about merely to satisfy the NEC’s thirst to exercise influence, have clearly not been considered by the NEC or are being ignored unreasonably and its decision may therefore be in clear breach of contract.
Nathan Gill MEP, AM and UKIP Party Leader in Wales