Former MEP Struan Stevenson has led glowing tributes to his former colleague Jens-Peter Bonde who has died from cancer.
Bonde, a long serving Danish MEP, died near his home in Copenhagen, aged 73. He was elected an MEP in the first direct elections in 1979 and then re-elected six times consecutively. He was a member of the conference of presidents for 17 years.
Stevenson, a former Scottish Tory MEP, told this website, "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of my old friend and colleague Jens-Peter Bonde. Although he was an arch Eurosceptic and from the political left, Jens-Peter was always a courteous and considerate opponent. As a Conservative and an anti-Brexiteer, I nevertheless always enjoyed chatting or debating with Jens-Peter."
He added, "He was always sincere and true to his original profession as a journalist, keen to hear both sides of every argument. He was also great fun. A towering, hulk of a man, with a distinctive voice, you could suppose his presence could be intimidating, but his good humour and friendly disposition always offset any such anxieties.”
“Denmark and Europe will be quieter and less daunting in his absence," added Stevenson, who was President of the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee from 2002-04 and President of the its Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009-14.
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of my old friend and colleague Jens-Peter Bonde. Although he was an arch Eurosceptic and from the political left, Jens-Peter was always a courteous and considerate opponent. As a Conservative and an anti-Brexiteer, I nevertheless always enjoyed chatting or debating with Jens-Peter" Former Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson
Further tribute came from former UK Europe Minister Denis MacShane, who told the Parliament Magazine, “Bonde was above all a journalist. Many politicians start as journalists but then have to make the messy compromises with voters and getting elected and then power.
“Bonde refused all compromise and was not interested in power. Instead, he created a Europe of his dreams and hopes based on a Danish belief in transparency and an idea of the common good.”
“Everyone engaged in European politics has an EU of his or her dreams. Some want an all-white, non-Muslim Europe reserved for wealthier nations of west and northern Europe.”
“Others don't care what kind of EU we have as long as the transfers flow and no-one asks questions about rule of law, media and judicial freedom, the rights of women or what happened to Jews between 1933 and 1945.”
Bonde just kept plugging away at his own vision of Europe. He wrote 60 books often co-authored with those in different political families like the Socialist MEP David Martin, or the EPP's Elmer Brok.
He never turned ugly and racist like a Le Pen, père et fille, a Farage, a Salvini, a Wilders, or AfD and FPÖ MEPs. The European Parliament should have place for eccentric but decent men like Jens-Peter Bonde.”
Further comment came from former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who served as an MEP during Bonde’s time in the Parliament, “Sorry to hear that Jens-Peter Bonde passed away. Knew him for 30 years. Disagreed on many EU issues at times but agreed on some. He was always a nice guy.”