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Stuart Agnew

Retirement of Roger Helmer MEP

12th July 2017

When I was first elected in 2009 I took my allocated seat in Strasbourg and discovered that I had drawn the 'long straw'.  I was seated next to the most beautiful woman in the Parliament, in my estimation, (and that is the one that counts) - Emma McClarkin.  I wasn't at all concerned if voting sessions dragged on a bit, or started late. Being an MEP had a lot going for it.
This pleasant state of affairs was shattered when there was a general reorganisation of the seating arrangements and I ended up beside some old Tory boy called Roger Helmer.
After the shock and withdrawal symptoms of losing Emma had started to fade, I discovered that I had a lot of views in common with Roger and we found ourselves attending the same fringe meetings, particularly on Climate Change.
UKIP voting papers contain more detail than those given to Tory MEPs by their Whips and so sometimes, during a voting session, I would say to Roger: "You have just voted to give the Commission more power" on such and such". He would quickly change his vote, if there was time to do so!
Nigel Farage received a phone call whilst I was with him in a taxi one day.  Although I could only hear one side, and no names were mentioned, I worked out that Roger was planning to defect and gave Farage a big thumbs up. He said nothing, but it all came to pass a few weeks later.

Immediately, Roger made his presence felt by producing a highly professional energy policy for us, in a very short time. His arrival was a breath of fresh air after the run of defections to which we had been subjected and the rather dejected sentiment of those that remained. He exuded a good natured humour and a modest demonstration of considerable intellect. I felt he was worth more than all the defectors combined.
He and I went on to secure a good friendship and I will greatly miss him in the Parliament. I wish he and his new partner Sheila a very happy and healthy retirement.
Roger's final speech in the Parliament can be viewed here.

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