The votes on Thursday are based on a very clear set of options. Although I will end up with 10 MEPs who will each represent me and around 8 million other people in the South East, the votes I have amount to one cross against a list of 9 political parties and three independent candidates. The rules are that if one of the people who represents a party gets elected and then subsequently leaves the European Parliament, such as happened to Anneliese Dodds, that they will be replaced by the next person on the list of their party. However if they choose to stay in the EP but want to swap parties, the fact that they were elected as a member of another party then disappears and whichever party they are part of now, loses the MEP and the new party gains the MEP. A classic example is that the 14 UKIP MEPS who are now members of The Brexit Party and the third person on the 2014 list of Conservative MEPs, Richard James Ashworth, is now the first MEP for the Change UK – The Independent Group. I may be alone but I find this rather disappointing as the only reason that Richard got elected was because he was third on the Conservative list and the only reason that Nigel Farage got elected was because he was the first person on the UKIP list in 2014.
It seems vital that if we remain in the EU that when it comes to the 2024 elections that the rules for this sort of voting system are changed so that either when the person leaves the EP, that a by-election takes place, or that when they leave the party that was chosen that a by-election takes place or ideally both examples lead to a by-election taking place.