British Conservative MEP Julie Girling has hit back at her “extreme and disproportionate” expulsion from the party after being shown the door over her views on Brexit.
Girling, a conservative party member for more than 40 years, fell out with party hierarchy over the UK’s impending divorce from the EU, and her dismissal was confirmed in a letter last week.
The letter, dated 25 September, was signed by party chairman Brandon Lewis and cites Girling’s recent decision to join the European Parliament centre-right EPP group as the reason for her exile.
The letter, seen by this website, says that when Girling was elected an MEP she agreed to join the more Eurosceptic ECR group, “in line with the commitments given by [former UK prime minister] David Cameron that conservative MEPs would not sit with the EPP.”
Party chiefs, it says, had therefore decided her membership was “withdrawn indefinitely,” and the decision would only be reviewed after 14 October, when a party board meeting is scheduled.
Girling, who supported the Remain side in the UK’s 2016 Referendum on EU membership, issued a strong rebuttal of the criticism levelled against her, telling this website on Tuesday that the party had used bullying tactics against her.
“I believe that this is an extreme and disproportionate measure which illustrates an increasing level of intolerance within the party, particularly on the issue of Brexit,” Girling said.
“These are the tactics of a bully, but I refuse to play the role of victim"
“It is no secret that I disagree with the PM [prime minister] on her [Brexit] strategy, as do many others, but I am being treated very differently from others in the party, especially those with a much higher public profile,” she added.
Girling, together with fellow Tory MEP Richard Ashworth, voted last October in favour of a European parliament resolution stating that the UK had not made sufficient progress in Brexit talks and therefore should not start trade talks with the EU.
Last week the pair, who joined the EPP earlier this year, were formally expelled from the conservative party.
“These are the tactics of a bully, but I refuse to play the role of victim. I intend to direct my political energies into the People’s Vote campaign and ensure that the final say on any deal is put to test at the ballot box,” Girling said.
In a newspaper article this week, Girling said Brexit had changed the conservative party, in some ways for the worst, and she predicted a “gradual clearing out” of the more moderate conservatives.