Jill Seymour officially leaves the European Parliament on July 1, and has been reflecting on her rollercoaster five years in office.
She was one of three UKIP candidates elected as an MEP to represent the West Midlands in the 2014 election, but quit the party – which she felt had changed political direction – to join Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in April this year.
“Being an MEP is a unique position; one I personally never took for granted. The pressure to represent constituents who voted me into office, and to stand up for the beliefs they elected me to uphold, has been immense,,” she said.
Jill was a front-bench spokesman on transport throughout her term, becoming one of the most vocal campaigners against HS2, and battling against EU-driven policies such as the Certificate of Professional Competence for hauliers.
As part of the HS2 campaign, she produced a hard-hitting film (see below) highlighting families whose lives will be ruined by the ‘HS2 Disaster’. It was viewed by more than 100,000 people in its first week alone, and nearly a quarter of a million people connected with an accompanying facebook page.
Jill has also campaigned for a simplification of the UK’s rail pricing structure, the removal of toll charges on British highways, and challenged the Government to stop bankrolling investment in overseas roads, when so many parts of the UK’s own potholed surfaces are in such a bad state of repair.
She has been a vociferous campaigner against the closure of 24-hour accident and emergency services in Telford and ‘scandalous’ hospital parking charges, as well as fighting the loss of green spaces in the county to housing developers when many brownfield sites remain untouched.
Jill said she would continue to fight against what she sees as a growing raft of anti-car legislation which treat drivers like ‘wallets on wheels’, and remains a patron of the Alliance of British Drivers.
“I’m all for the encouragement of policies promoting clean air, but do worry that some people will struggle financially to make the move to such things as electric cars – and I question how the infrastructure will ever be sufficiently in place.
“There are many other unanswered questions: for example, what does it mean to classic car drivers, will electric vehicles have the same pulling power and resilience in our changing climate, and isn’t it dangerous to put all our eggs in one basket, and rely on a single form of power to keep us on the roads?”
She added: “Looking back over my rollercoaster five years as an MEP, commuting between the UK and parliament buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg and dealing with constituency business at my Wellington office, it has been an amazing but frustrating time.
“It is astonishing, in this modern era, that the European parliament constantly ups sticks between Strasbourg and Brussels for a farcical process which means transporting all staff and MEPs for the sake of just three days of voting each month.
“If the EU is serious about wanting to save the planet, it could start by looking at its own carbon footprint, and tackling the mountain of wasted paper caught up in all this bloated bureaucracy.”
Reflecting on her decision to switch parties earlier this year, Jill said: “I was with the right party at the start, led by Nigel Farage, and even with the highs and real lows, I have always backed and admired his strength and determination in his beliefs.
“He has now truly come into his own. I will always be proud of him, as well as the colleagues who helped me throughout my years in politics – hoping maybe one day we can all raise a glass on our success.”
She added: “It is frankly scandalous that, more than three years after we voted to leave the European Union, we still have not broken free. And it is ridiculous that we have had to go through the costly and farcical process of electing another set of MEPs that we don’t need – and that the EU certainly doesn’t want.
“People supported Brexit because they are fed up of being controlled by Europe. This is very, very different from saying we want to pull up the drawbridge and completely isolate ourselves from our neighbours.
“We just want to wrestle back control of our own rules, regulations, and legislation. I campaigned passionately for Brexit because I believe it will always be the British people who know what is best for our strong, proud, and resilient island nation.”
She continued: “We all believe in our country, and will give our last breath to protect it. I am grateful to the many, many people who have helped, supported and advised me during my time in office.
“My team put in an immense amount of time and work, often working long hours, and sometimes under immense pressure. This commitment never went un-noticed, and was never taken for granted. I certainly could not have achieved what I did, or managed to get through the past five years, without their support.
“Last but not least, I must add a massive thank you to my amazing husband Brian, who encouraged me 19 years ago to venture into politics, and has given me such committed love and support all the way through.”
Jill recalled the very first speech she gave as an MEP, on the night of the 2014 election results.
“I said that the message coming from the established parties had been wrong for years, and cited the fact that they seemed unable to grasp the fact that it’s the people they must serve, not their own ends – and that electors had become fed up of their rhetoric and spin.
“Given what has happened to our democracy in the past three years since the Brexit referendum, this has never been more true.”