Diana Wallis MEP resigns

European Voice reports:

Liberal Democrat MEP announces that she is to quit just days after failing in bid to become president of the European Parliament.

Diana Wallis, a British Liberal MEP who this week failed in her bid to become president of the European Parliament, today announced that she is to stand down as an MEP.

Wallis said that after 12 years as an MEP she wanted “to take a break from politics,” adding that it was time “for someone with fresh eyes to take over”. Wallis said she would give up her seat on 31 January.

Wallis came third in the election on Tuesday (17 Tuesday). She secured 141 votes, one behind Nirj Deva, a British MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists group. The election was won by Martin Schulz, a German centre-left MEP, who got 387 votes.

Wallis has been an MEP since 1999. She was a vice-president of the Parliament in 2007-09 and during the first half of the current 2009-14 parliamentary term, but stood as an independent in the election after the Liberal group refused to endorse her presidential bid. She led the UK Liberal delegation in the Parliament between 2001-04 and again from 2006-07.

…Wallis’s husband, Stewart Arnold, who works as one of her parliamentary assistants, finished in second place on the electoral list in the Yorkshire and the Humber constituency in northern England during the 1999 European elections. This means that he could potentially fill the vacancy left by Wallis. Arnold has not commented on the matter.

Chris Davies, fellow Liberal Democrat MEP, has condemned the decision:

I am appalled and feel betrayed by her decision. To stand for election for the presidency one day and then resign the following day is quite unbelievable.

It is an insult to her constituents and a slap in the face for the constituents who supported her in the last European elections.

There will be some people who will regard this as quite unprincipled.

Chris Davies also poured cold water on the idea of Diana Wallis’ husband succeeding her:

He is not guaranteed to succeed her but it is likely to do so. The problem is that this will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people.

It will serve to reinforce the ‘gravy train’ or ‘jobs for the boys’ image many people have of MEPs.

Here is Diana Wallis’ statement in full:

I have been in the European Parliament twelve years and I think that is time enough. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time and it was truly a huge privilege; especially to serve as a Vice President of Parliament for the last five years. However, I think all of us, whatever our professions, need to turn a new page from time to time.

At the mid-term of parliament many members come and go, so accordingly this moment following upon my unsuccessful bid for the Presidency is a good time to take stock. I undertook that bid for reasons that I deeply believe in but such a course of action is bound to lead to reflection. I want to take a break from politics and to take time and assess what next.

I have been at the service of the people of Yorkshire and the Humber for twelve and a half years. I will always be grateful for the trust that was placed in me to carry out this role, but now is the time for someone with fresh eyes to take over.

I remain a committed pro-European Liberal Democrat.

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19 Comments

  • What astonishing backstabbing from Chris Davies! Didn’t see him complain when Liz Lynne announced her resignation in favour of Phil Bennion.

    An election – even one that there is no hope of winning – takes a lot out of any candidate. A lot of people don’t like Diana but to attack her in this way seems wrong.

  • Sam Barnett 19th Jan '12 - 8:32pm

    Chris Davies does a good job of making himself sound thoroughly unpleasant here.

  • Depends – an MEP isn’t just a representative of constituents but one of the party. If she’d sloped off to be a backbencher in favour of someone wholly unrelated to her family no one would have minded.

    The real POLITICAL problem here is that her husband would succeed her for being second on the list. He is also her chief of staff. It looks both venal and petulant.

    Now, let’s say you’re an ex-LD voter about to forgive us our tuition fees vote and thought `well they’re the best of a bad bunch at least they didn’t flip houses`. Oh…..

    If it were just a case of the baton being passed on no one would be saying this.

  • David from Ealing 19th Jan '12 - 9:33pm

    She’s made her decision. It doesn’t help anyone to be bitchy.

  • (Now, let’s say you’re an ex-LD voter about to forgive us our tuition fees vote and thought `well they’re the best of a bad bunch at least they didn’t flip houses`. Oh…..

    If it were just a case of the baton being passed on no one would be saying this)

    If you don’t understand the political come-back on this well I despair

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Jan '12 - 12:20am

    Alternative you could interpret her actions as having one last (clearly hopeless) bash at the establishment before throwing it in.

  • I have been told that the last Labour Government changed the rules on European Elections and that it is up to the party which person on the list becomes an MEP in these circumstances. This was changed to allow parties to take into account changed circumstances from when the list was drawn up. For example, if oneor more of the people on the list was no longer a party member or had lost the confidence of the party. The party does have to choose a person from the list but it does not have to be strictly in order.

  • She said “I have been in the European Parliament twelve years and I think that is time enough”. Why did she stand for President, then?

    To resign now looks terrible and reflects badly on the party as well as her. It will come across to the voters as resigning in a huff.

  • Tony Dawson 21st Jan '12 - 1:20pm

    @Ian Sanderson

    “If, as people say, incumbents at the EP have a good chance of re-election, it may well be the best tactics to get a successor in place and known to the public mid-term, rather than at an election.”

    People vote for Parties in EU elections: even the best known MEP in the country (Chris Davies) has fairly low public recognition. The only use for Stewart Arnold of being an incumbent would be in an attempt to beat Ed McMillan Scott for the number one position in the next Lib Dem list.

  • This is a strange decision that clearly benefits her husband. It’s one of the many problems associated with having a husband and wife team (and a team they definitely are) at the top of our Yorkshire list and working so closely together. Hopefully next time members will give voters and the party a bit more choice at the top.

  • Ian Hepplewhite 7th Nov '16 - 9:13am

    Could someone please give me an answer to a question I have about the EU, if a ‘longish’ one, as I have yet to get a response to anyone on this point.

    During a UK general election we have the opportunity to read, discuss, probe and consider political party manifestos on the radio, TV, homes, pubs, work etc., and then to make an informed decision on how to vote. In the next general election we can then consider how the government has performed against their manifesto and in general, and so vote to try and eject them if we wish.

    In the instance of the EU the ‘unelected’ Commissioners instigate the legislation, which we are not made aware of, so cannot review, probe, consider, discuss or, most importantly, vote for or against. I know it goes before the ‘elected’ EU Parliament, however it can only suggest modifications, which must return to the unelected Commissioners for approval.

    Question: Bearing the above in mind, how can anyone justify the obvious side-lining & diminishing of UK citizens, and thereby all EU citizens, in the EU legislation process?

    It seems the EU was designed, from the outset, to minimise any interference in the EU governing process by potentially interfering EU citizens, which shocked & disappointed me when I uncovered this! And then to realise there are also five ‘unelected’ presidents makes this organisation seem more like a banana republic than any sort of representative democracy. If it is not meant to be a democracy, then let’s be honest and say so and decide what it really is, but it certainly isn’t a ‘proper’ democracy as far as I can see. I appreciate that UK democracy isn’t perfect e.g. the unelected House of Lords, which I would like to see significantly reformed, but it is there to scrutinise and delay legislation and to make the government think again.

    Can you ‘please’ offer me an answer to my question above as I am honestly lost to understand how anyone justify this obvious ‘democratic deficit’. Thank you.

    Perhaps I should just explain that I am a retired Instrument/Electrical/Control Project Engineer, and I worked in a few locations in the UK since 1969, and in various types of manufacturing and service industries and/or companies. I have never been politically active as such.

    .

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