So Giles Chichester, leader of the Tory MEPs in the European Parliament has (partially) fallen on his sword regarding expenses issues first raised by The Times. Chichester is resigning as leader of the Tory MEPs in the European Parliament. I would be astounded if he would choose to resign as a MEP (although the Tories could substitute someone in off their regional list – no by-election needed) although he might conceivably not stand in 2009, realising it would put the Tories in a dangerous position vis Ã vis UKIP.
So am I remotely happy to see this fate befall Chichester? Well, of course he has to at least resign as leader of the Tory MEPs, but I am not in the slightest content to see these problems the Tories are facing. First and foremost it shows a complete contempt for the European Parliament, and it further erodes the reputation of the European Parliament in the eyes of the British public. The problem for Richard Corbett (quoted by Guido) and any other MEP who is not on the make is that everyone will just assume things are dodgy, and – audited accounts or not – no-one is going to believe otherwise.
Furthermore, other than a case of a very flagrant breach of the rules (Chichester-style) the chances of a UK party leader wanting to get involved are slim to none, and there are no leaders as such in the EP who have the public standing to speak out in favour of decency and transparency.
So in response to Chichester (and whoever else) I just groan.