Politico (http://www.politico.eu) - 4 May 2017
By Ryan Heath and Annabelle Dickson
British Conservative MEPs are trying to jump the Brussels ship early — and some look set to succeed.
MEPs Vicky Ford and Andrew Lewer are likely to swap the airy modern Brussels parliament for the dusty corridors in Westminster as Tory "safe seat" contenders (in Chelmsford and Northampton South respectively). Ian Duncan will stand in Perth and North Perthshire but even with a Tory tartan march it will be tough to steal it from the Scottish National Party.
They are the lucky few. Unlike many of their MEP peers from others EU countries, being in the European Parliament can hurt rather than help Brits wanting to run for election at home.
In Poland, a sitting MEP, Andrzej Duda, became president in 2015. Martin Schulz swapped the European Parliament presidency to become the German Socialists' candidate for chancellor. The French MEP bench includes several ex-ministers.
In the United Kingdom, MEPs have to leapfrog unelected ministerial advisers and battle with party headquarters to get a hearing.
Others seeking a Westminster refuge include European Conservatives and Reformists party group leader Syed Kamall; high-profile Brexiteer Daniel Hannan; and Sajjad Karim. POLITICO understands all have so far been sidelined.
David Campbell-Bannerman — who returned to the Conservatives from UKIP in 2011 — told POLITICO he was blocked by Tory HQ in three safe seats where local associations wanted him on the shortlist and he now wants a review into the "remote unelected cabal" at the center of the Conservative Party.
Rob Semple, chairman of the National Conservative Convention, said: "Given the shortened timeframe we have worked hard to ensure that [local Tory] associations and their members are given a choice of candidates where possible."
This unseemly scramble was set in motion by Theresa May's calling of a snap election, which ruined the plans of many British MEPs to stick it out in Brussels until Brexit in 2019.
As well as looming unemployment post-Brexit, this year's election is particularly attractive because proposed changes to the U.K. electoral system, due to be finalized in 2018, could reduce the number of seats in the House of Commons from 650 to 600. If MEPs don't get a seat this year, they will be forced to compete against Conservative MPs whose seats have been abolished.
Tories are also tempted by the party's 20-point lead over Labour in the polls, which should make even marginal seats easier to take.
It's not surprising that many calculate that they are better to try to get in this time round that wait until 2022 when the Conservatives will have been in power for 12 years and Brexit headwinds may have turned the electoral tide.
Eastern Daily Press (http://www.edp24.co.uk) - 5 April 2017
By Annabelle Dickson - email@example.com - @newsannabelle
Nigel Farage has been accused of driving a herd of bulls through tricky Brexit negotiations after he accused MEPs of behaving like the mafia.
The former leader of the UK Independence Party was rebuked by the President of the European Parliament after telling MEPs:
"You're behaving like the mafia - you think we're a hostage. We're free to go!".
His comments prompted Eastern region Conservative MEP Vicky Ford to hit back, telling the parliament: "Calling other colleagues members of the mafia or gangsters does not show mutual respect, it does not represent the views of the vast majority of the British people and it is not the view of the British prime minister who wants to remain friends, allies, and partners."
MEPs met today to debate negotiations between the European Union and UK after the two-year stopwatch was set on Brexit negotiations when prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 last Wednesday.
Mrs Ford, who has been an MEP since 2009 and leads a committee on the single market, said she wanted an amicable separation and a constructive and deep future relationship between the UK and EU.
She said: "When negotiating a tricky separation one needs to keep calm, but when Farage spoke it was like a herd of bulls had just been driven straight through the china shop. Of course there will be times when negotiators disagree but chucking indiscriminate insults at those on the other side of the channel will not help get a good deal for the UK. It's important that people across Europe know that most Brits don't support this sort of language."
Mr Farage described last Wednesday as an "historic day" for Britain following the activation of Article 50.
"An act that that he been cheered by hundreds of millions of people all over the world," he added.
He continued: "The response to the triggering of Article 50 has been all too predictable.
"Already you've made a series of demands that are not just unreasonable but in some cases clearly impossible for Britain to comply with."
During his speech Mr Farage also claimed Britons could boycott European goods if the EU tried to impose tariffs on exports from the UK.
Lynn News - 27 March 2017
Lynn based construction company Chalcroft has shown its commitment to the next generation of industry specialists after its assistant quantity surveyor Charlie Ilson was named Trainee of the Year in the Mayor's Business Awards.
Charlie was among representatives of the Chalcroft team who met MP Sir Henry Bellingham and MEP Vicky Ford when they visited the firm's new head office in Campbell's Meadow recently.
After leaving school, Charlie joined Chalcroft as a trainee quantity surveyor, and has since become an assistant quantity surveyor, completing his BTEC Level 3 Diploma in construction and civil engineering with a double distinction. Having had the early part of his career development supported by Chalcroft, Charlie will further his studies through a BSc Honours degree in quantity surveying and construction commercial management.
Chalcroft has since employed three more trainee quantity surveyors, Harry Porter, Luke Reed and Luke Simonds, who will be supported in their educational development through qualifications and experience through construction projects.
Charlie Ilson said: "Joining Chalcroft straight from sixth form was a crucial step for my career development. I have gained priceless experience working on live projects. Chalcroft's educational programme is second to none, and as principal contractor on many different construction developments, I've had the opportunity to work on a number of projects for various clients."
Georgina Clark, Chalcroft group HR manager said: "I am immensely proud of our trainees and the Chalcroft trainee programme. The trainees take on a lot of responsibility when they join us following A levels, actively participating on projects under the mentorship of our quantity surveyors, whilst studying for a professional qualification during long days at college. They work incredibly hard and I am so pleased Charlie's efforts have been recognised with the Mayor's Business Award".
Paul Morley, managing director of Chalcroft, added: "Nurturing talent is extremely important to us and the wider industry, as we want to ensure that there are enough high-quality professionals meeting the sector's growing demands. Charlie is just one example of this, and over the coming years we hope to see more young professionals coming through and flourishing within the company."
Chalcroft has also pledged its support to best health and safety practices, having partnered with the Health & Safety Executive to champion 'Helping Great Britain Work Well'. As part of the campaign, Chalcroft works with contractors to raise awareness of key health and safety policies and regulations.
Chalcroft is also supporting the 'Learn to Prevent' campaign, promoted by the International Accreditation Society, a charity dedicated to effective health and safety training and assessment.
The relocation of its head office to Campbell's Meadow this year allows Chalcroft to better serve its customers and employees and provide efficient management on all of its live construction projects.
For further information please visit www.chalcroft.co.uk
Politics.co.uk - 15 March 2017
BASC will continue working to protect legitimate shooting when the European Commission's Firearms Directive is officially passed to the UK to be incorporated into national law.
European Parliament MEPs approved the proposed legislation by 491 votes to 178 at a plenary hearing yesterday after Vicky Ford MEP steered through crucial amendments to an original draft which included many technical errors and would have placed disproportionate restrictions of lawful firearms owners.
The European Parliament has spent 18 months scrutinising the issue and, as part of that process, Mrs Ford met BASC, The British Shooting Sports Council and other shooting organisations from the UK and across the EU, including the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE).
The proposed legislation now passes to the EU Council of Ministers for formal approval, after which Member States will have 15 months to incorporate the new rules into national law. BASC does not believe Brexit will have a significant impact on that process but will be working to ensure UK ministers are adequately briefed.
BASC and other shooting organisations have worked tirelessly to ensure amendments to the Directive, suggested in the aftermath of terrorist atrocities, did not have unintended consequences for those who shoot legitimately.
As a result of those efforts – and the firm stance taken by the UK government and Mrs Ford – the lawful interests of the British shooting community are protected by the proposed amendments.
The following have been preserved for the UK:
Furthermore, the ability for the UK to extend the life of firearms and shotgun certificates and to choose its medical screening procedures have been secured rather than imposed upon us. The gun trade will be pleased to hear that no specific requirement has been made for a dealer's register of transactions to be electronically stored by them.
Matt Perring, a BASC senior firearms officer, said: "The original Commission proposals were destined to damage many areas of shooting sports, but common sense has won through thanks to the work of Vicky Ford and MEPs who listened to the expert opinions of BASC and others who have an interest in lawful shooting.
"Now we must work hard to ensure the transportation of this proposed legislation into UK law is not a threat to legitimate shooting sports. Government has been supportive so far and BASC will work with ministers and government departments to represent the interests of those who shoot in the UK."
BASC chairman Peter Glenser, a barrister specialising in firearms law, said: "BASC has been a leading player in rallying together the wider shooting community so that the right people were briefed and the right decisions made. BASC will continue to be vigilant to ensure that legitimate shooting is protected."
Daily Express - 2 March 2017
By Nick Gutteridge, Brussels Correspondent
A MAJOR breakthrough was made in the Brexit impasse today as an influential group of Brussels politicians called on EU leaders to agree a "special relationship" with Britain for the future.
In a crucial development ahead of the divorce talks an alliance of powerful MEPs said the bloc's governments must secure a comprehensive trade deal with the UK as soon as possible.
The bombshell move by members of the European Parliament, who are overwhelmingly europhile and have been the most outspoken critics of Brexit, was hailed by British officials as a huge coup for Theresa May.
The prime minister has previously said that "no deal is better than a bad one" and has threatened to walk away from the talks if EU member states try to punish Britain for leaving.
But in a strongly worded statement MEPs have warned the other 27 heads of government they must not allow that to happen, significantly strengthening the PM's negotiating hand as she prepares to trigger Article 50.
They presented a 16-point action plan European leaders should follow for the divorce talks, which includes the creation of a "special relationship" entailing mutual market access for the UK and the EU.
An EU source said the document was a "significant development and a sign of the changing mood" in Brussels now the hard-nosed business of negotiating is imminent, whilst the Conservatives hailed the breakthrough as a "major step forward".
Tory MEP Vicky Ford said: "I have always said our future partnership needs to be much closer than the EU normally has with third countries.
"The recently agreed EU-Canada trade agreement, for example, does not give anything like the level of market access the UK is used to having across EU borders.
"By calling for a 'deep' partnership the committee is advocating significantly more co-operation than the EU has with other third countries, especially on single market issues.
"This is very significant. If these action points are endorsed by the full Parliament for inclusion in the final text, it will be a major step forward."
The proposal has been made by MEPs from the six largest political groups sitting on the influential Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, which is responsible for the single market.
It is being backed by politicians from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic and looks set to be included in the EU parliament's Brexit strategy, to be published immediately after the triggering of Article 50.
The proposal says that the committee "believes it to be in the mutual interest of the EU and the UK to pursue a special relationship...which should include arrangements regarding deep mutual market access in goods and services".
It also supports the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, continued market access for products where UK and EU standards mirror each other and specifies that there should no lessening of consumer standards by either side following Brexit.
But in addition it acknowledges that any agreement between the EU and the UK ought to be "mutually beneficial", leaving open the tricky issue of how to square economic ties with Mrs May putting an end to free movement.
The EU parliament is set to play second fiddle in the Brexit negotiations behind the Commission and the Council of 27 member states, but eurocrats will still have to give strong consideration to its preferences.
That is because MEPs will ultimately wield a veto over any deal agreed between Brussels and Britain, meaning they can torpedo the talks if they think EU leaders are not listening to their concerns.
ConservativeHome - 14 February 2017
By Vicky Ford MEP
This week MEPs will vote on the long awaited EU/Canada trade agreement known as CETA. For those of us who support free and open trade this is a welcome step. But we should be very wary of using it as a template for future UK/EU trade partnerships.
Removing barriers to trade boosts growth, encourages innovation, increases wages and gives consumers greater choices and lower prices. The EU/Canada deal will eliminate over €500 million of tariffs currently placed on European and British exports. But we should hardly be popping celebrating corks if we achieve zero tariffs in a UK/EU trade agreement as today there are already zero tariffs left to cut.
It is much more important to look at the so called "non-tariff barriers" which reflect the bureaucratic red tape faced by companies exporting into other markets and to recognise that the level of ease British companies currently have when selling into other EU markets is much much greater than that which is now offered to Canada in CETA.
When I talk to key sectors of the British economy about what they want to retain from a new UK/EU relationship while tariffs of course remain a concern, it is the non-tariff barriers which are frequently cited as being more important.
For example, car manufacturers want to keep the mutual recognition of vehicle testing so once safety and emissions tests are passed in the UK they don't need to go and get the same vehicle tested and approved again. Digital entrepreneurs want to retain access to cross-border data flows. Pharma companies wish to continue to seamlessly run cross border clinical trials with a single approval for the new medicines or medical devices that result as well as to enjoy the ability to avoid double testing by having their UK manufacturing facilities certified as compliant with EU standards by UK regulators. The young Irish Occupational Therapist I met working at my local hospital wants to know that her qualifications will continue to be recognised on both sides of the Irish Sea and for our banks it's important that once they pass regulatory tests in the UK they can market the same mortgages, loans, insurance in other countries without additional requirements.
All of these are covered by the current trade arrangements we have between the UK and the rest of the EU but none of these issues are covered in any detail or with any certainty by the Canada trade deal.
When the Prime Minister spoke about leaving the Single Market she also spoke about retaining elements of cooperation, on a fully reciprocal basis and in the UK and the EU's mutual interests.
It would be logically possible to include all these specific elements into a UK/EU new trade deal provided there is trust and political goodwill. But if this is to be achieved then both sides will need to recognise that cutting and pasting terms from agreements that the EU has with other parts of the world is not the wisest place to start.
Basildon, Canvey & Southend Echo - 13 February 2017
by Charlotte Austen-Hardy
STUDENTS were able to grill a Member of the European Parliament and find out about her work during a visit.
MEP Vicky Ford met with A-Level students studying Politics and Law at Seevic college in Runnymede Chase, Benfleet.
The Conservative MEP ember of the European Parliament for the East of England is also chairman of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful economic committees of the Parliament.
She was elected a Member of the European Parliament in 2009 and is a member of the Bureau of the European Conservative and Reformist Group and a member of the Parliament's delegation for relations with China.
After an introductory talk about Vicky's work with the European Parliament, the students were able to ask questions.
Vicky was grilled on a range of topics including how law making works, how long it takes to set up a trade deal, should 16-year-olds have voted in the EU Referendum and asked about projects she is involved in.
Blake Matthews, Head of Learning for Humanities at Seevic College, said the students really enjoyed the chance to speak to a politician in depth about their work.
He said: "It is great to give the students the chance to ask about issues they have been learning or reading about in the classroom.
"The questions they were asking were really insightful and Vicky was brilliant at answering them in a clear and engaging way."
To find out more about studying Politics or Law at Seevic College, go to seevic-college.ac.uk.
David Mundell in Brussels: Getting the best deal for the whole of the UK
InvestinUK - 9 February 2017
The Scottish Secretary was in Brussels to discuss how the UK Government is representing Scotland as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell met with Scottish MEPs, EU academics and business representatives in Brussels today [Thursday 9 February], to discuss how the UK Government is representing people and business interests in Scotland.
Mr Mundell also met with other European member states while in Brussels, as part of a two-day programme of European engagement on economic, social and cultural matters. Tomorrow [Friday 10 February] he will travel to Berlin.
Speaking after the meetings, Mr Mundell said
"The UK government has been forming a strong UK-wide evidence base as we prepare for negotiations to forge a new, mutually-beneficial partnership with Europe. Today I set out how the Scottish Government and the UK Government are working together to ensure we get the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.
I also met representatives from a number of EU member states, and I was heartened to find a willingness to work with the UK as we leave the EU – underlining that we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe."
Today [Thursday 9 February] Mr Mundell met:
Mr Mundell's visit is part of the UK Government's determination to get the best possible deal for Scotland and all parts of the UK as we leave the EU. This direct engagement will ensure that key figures in Brussels understand the UK's ambitions in delivering a deal that works for the UK and all of its nations.
In Berlin Mr Mundell will meet Scottish academic and business interests, and host a reception for the Edinburgh International Film Festival at the British Embassy. This will showcase the Edinburgh festival to the world's cinema industry, who will be in Berlin for the Berlinale.
East Anglia Euro MP says her single market post suggests Europe does want to work with Britain over trade
Eastern Daily Press - 25 January 2017
By Annabelle Dickson
Conservative Vicky Ford MEP was re-elected as chairman of the European Parliament' Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) and will hold the post until the next European parliament elections when Britain is expected to have left the European Union and the single market.
She took up the role in 2014 and was reappointed in the mid-term committee elections today.
She said "I am pleased to be able to continue this work and to do all I can to help maintain amicable and open dialogue across Europe and between the UK and the EU-27.
"The IMCO Committee looks at the practical elements of removing barriers to trade across Europe. I hope that many of these practical co-operation networks will continue for both the UK and the rest of the EU post-Brexit.
"Re-confirming a UK Conservative in this important role confirms my view that many across Europe wish to maintain a close co-operative partnership with the UK, minimise barriers to trade and keep an amicable and open dialogue during all negotiations, including those on Brexit."
Ford responds to PM's speech
Cambridge News - 17 January 2017
By Jenny Chapman
Theresa May's speech on Brexit now offers both the EU and UK an opportunity to move beyond simplistic 'in or out' scenarios on the EU Single Market and Customs Union, and instead focus on finding a new partnership – according to Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who chairs the European Parliament's internal market committee.
Speaking from the parliament in Strasbourg, Mrs Ford said: "We now need to move beyond the simplistic and binary view that we must either be in or out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Theresa May's speech now sets the scene for the kind of detailed and nuanced discussion that is needed once Article 50 is triggered.
"Many countries have preferential access to the Single Market, and an enhanced relationship on Customs matters. None of the existing models fit perfectly with the UK's position, and the extent to which the economic ties between the UK and the rest of Europe have become intertwined. It is in the interest of all parties to find an arrangement that maximises market access and maintains close regulatory cooperation.
"This new relationship needs to work practically as well as politically. I hope that moving past this binary 'in or out' discussion will mean all negotiators can now roll up their sleeves and start focusing on the specific details of a new partnership that benefits both sides."
My Political Priorities
Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.
I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care and improved lifestyles for all our families.
Strong security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.
I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.