UKIP has now lost 10 MEPs after Bours quietly left party
UKIP has now lost close to half of its representatives in the European parliament after suffering two departures in the space of five days.
East of England MEP Patrick O’Flynn announced on Tuesday that he has quit the party in protest at the decision of its leader, Gerard Batten, to employ English Defence league founder Tommy Robinson as an adviser.
But Yahoo Finance UK can also reveal that north-west England MEP Louise Bours has also quietly left the party.
It means just 14 of the 24 UKIP MEPs elected at the last European elections remain in the party.
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Neither Bours nor UKIP publicly announced her departure, but the European parliament’s website states that she left UKIP to become an independent on Friday 23 November.
Bours has missed 20 of the 44 sitting days of the European parliament this year, including the last nine. The last time she attended a plenary sitting was on 12 September.
UKIP’s former health spokesperson, who called for the return of capital punishment, has also deleted her website, Twitter account and Facebook page. There was no answer when Yahoo Finance UK called her office in Brussels on Tuesday.
Bours was subject to an investigation by ITV News in March over her voting record. She has the seventh lowest level of participation in votes since 2014, according to Vote Watch EU.
In a statement to the channel, she said: “Voting records are no indication of attendance, and nor are they a way of measuring the quality of an MEP. Not all votes in the European parliament lead to legislation in any case so it is often a futile exercise.
“It is also my personal view that after Article 50 was triggered last March, British MEPs should not be voting on anything that will be enacted once the UK has finally left the EU.”
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Bours is now one of seven former UKIP MEPs who are not attached to a party. That number also includes former UKIP leadership candidate Steven Woolfe, whose recent application to join the Conservatives was rejected.
Amjad Bashir defected to the Conservatives in 2015. Bill Etheridge, who quit UKIP in October over concerns the party was lurching to the far-right under Batten’s leadership, has joined the Libertarian party.
O’Flynn, a former political editor of the Daily Express, announced on Tuesday that he has defected to the Social Democratic party over concerns about Batten’s “growing fixation with Tommy Robinson.”
In a statement on his website, O’Flynn said: “I have reached the sorry conclusion that UKIP under its current direction and at this decisive moment has become an impediment to the Brexit campaigning that I have energetically pursued for many years.”