Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Lib Dem MEP hits the campaign trail in North Devon

10:54 24 April 2014

North Devon MP Nick Harvey has welcomed Wednesday

North Devon MP Nick Harvey has welcomed Wednesday's announcement

Archant

Sir Graham Watson welcomes UKIP challenge and ‘real debate’ on Europe

SOUTH West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson admits he faces his ‘most challenging’ campaign since being elected two decades ago.

Mr Watson highlighted the increased political power of UKIP as one of the factors – but said he believed that could actually help his party to pick up votes on May 22.

“I think that some kind of junction has been reached,” he said. “This election will be much more about whether people want the country in the EU or not and the Liberal Democrats are the only party who are clearly saying ‘yes, we should be in’.

“There’s always been something else on around the European elections – the economy in 2009, the war in 2005 – and for the first time this election is going to be a fight on Europe.”

Mr Watson was in North Devon on Wednesday as part of a tour across the constituency – which spreads as far as Wiltshire and even includes Gibraltar.

He was accompanied by North Devon MP Nick Harvey, leafleting door-to-door in Ilfracombe and also visiting Barnstaple, Mortehoe and South Molton.

Mr Watson, a member of the European Parliament since 1994, is number one on the Lib Dem list and seeking a fifth term in Brussels.

“Every time I go out canvassing I’m reminded of what Tip O’Neill once said: all politics is local politics.

“Nationwide, 45% of our exports go to the EU; in the South West it is 59%, and not just from the big companies you would think of. A lot of it comes from farming.”

“And with such a large area to cover, the issues are going to be fundamentally different in Gibraltar to parts of the South West.”

North Devon MP Mr Harvey underlined a number of the key advantages of EU membership, but Mr Watson conceded that further reform is still needed.

“We are living in a global village now,” said Mr Harvey. “The world has become a smaller place and we can achieve far more if we stay as part of international bodies.

“The UK is in a very strong position. In terms of the economic agenda, being part of the EU is crucial.”

Mr Watson added that ‘lots of things’ still have to be changed, and called for greater transparency and less bureaucracy, and to stop holding parliament sessions in Strasbourg.

It’s very hard to be a liberal coming out of a recession, and people will always go back to the old ways – UKIP clearly appeals to that type of thinking,” he added.

“I used to think when I was first elected in what was then North Devon and Somerset through ‘first past the post’ that would be the hardest election I would ever fight – I think this campaign will be at least as challenging, but that’s what we live for in politics.”

Polling for the European Parliament elections takes place on May 22.

•UKIP will be holding a public meeting on May 7 at the Barnstaple Hotel, with talks from William Dartmouth MEP, environmental campaigner Penny Mills and North Devon parliamentary candidate Steve Crowther.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other North Devon Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by North Devon Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique North Devon Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

52 minutes ago
David Whiteland, 84; Neil Whiteland, 51; and Alex Whiteland, 18. Picture: Sarah Howells

Family-owned business in Bideford is celebrationg 60 years of success.

Read more
52 minutes ago
Braunton's big wave surfer Andrew Cotton.

Will you hop on your bike and join the 240-mile trek from Surrey to Saunton Sands beach?

Read more
Yesterday, 16:40
Natalie Jones. Picture: Michelle Ley

A 31-year-old has been charged with causing the death of Ilfracombe’s Natalie Jones after fatal collision last August.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:37
Torrington Mayfair 2016. Pictures: Sarah Howells

Torrington celebrated its annual Mayfair tradition today (Thursday) - view the photos and catch up on the action here.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:00
The Bideford Secondary Modern reunion at Durrant House Hotel. Picture: Sarah Howells

The Bideford Secondary Modern girls’ reunited at the at the Durrant House Hotel after 65 years.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:31
Author Stephanie M Turner shows the new book to some of the Combe Martin Primary School pupils who contributed.

Short stories written by Combe Martin schoolchildren have made it into a professionally published book.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:30
Chulmleigh RNIB volunteer Christine Smith has been responsible for raising three quarters of a million pounds for the charity.

Christine Smith has dedicated more than 40 years to the RNIB plus countless other local and national charities

Read more
Yesterday, 08:00
Westcroft School pupils with the old uniform they are donating to Oxfam. Picture: Sarah Howells

Two Bideford school and merged and donated their old uniforms to help families in Africa.

Read more
Yesterday, 07:30
Nicole Hickin, co-ordinator at the WOW North Devon Scrap Store. Picture: Sarah Howells

Volunteers are needed at project in Barnstaple which promotes reusing waste for a sustainable future.

Read more
Wed, 17:36

Councillors turn down controversial proposals to earmark the region for wind energy

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 10°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications