Tory Euro Leader Hopeful Bunged Wife £29,999

The less than riveting race to lead the British Conservative grouping in the European Parliament climaxes next Tuesday. With none of the three candidates likely to receive 50% of the vote in the first round, this one could get messy. This morning ConservativeHome profiled all three men – Richard Ashworth, Martin Callanan and Charles Tannock. One in particular caught Guido’s eye though…

Richard Ashworth, who had to fight for re-selection after infuriating his local association in the run up to the 2009 euro elections, is ironically the Tories agriculture spokesman despite his own disastrous farming record – which Guido may cover next week if he can dig out the clippings over the weekend.

Ashworth has admitted in the past to paying his wife £29,999 to be his full time PA, but in the run up to the leadership vote there might be a bit of a headache from him. A former staffer has contacted Guido and spilled the beans that despite working for Ashworth for many months they:

“…never had any form of communication with the MEP’s PA, Mrs Ashworth, not an email, not a phone call, not a letter, nothing from her. There was absolutely no proof that she was doing any work at all to earn the £33,000 that she was being paid. Even if she was working in the constituency on a part-time basis you would have expected at least some form of contact, at least once, with the European staff.”

Of course the European Parliament is not F-o-Iable so we can’t find out what she was up to but £29,999 is a full time salary in terms of parliamentary staff. So even if Mrs Ashworth was only working part time the hopeful leader has some serious questions to answer.

The last thing any British delegation in the European Parliament is another gravy-training, free-loading, trougher, especially not as a leader.




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Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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