A news presenter has criticised a Brexit Party MEP for continuing to take a salary from the European parliament, and appearing to still live in France despite vowing to move back to England.
Brian Monteith clashed with Emily Maitlis for the party’s protest, which involved his political colleagues turning their back in the European parliament during the European anthem on the first day of the new session.
Newsnight’s Maitlis asked whether, as part of his protest against the EU, it stretched to not claiming expenses and a salary.
She asked: “Just clarify – because you are clearly horified by the EU parliament and all it stands for – just clarify that you don’t take salary from that parliament and expenses will you?”
But Monteith, a former Scottish Tory, said he had no issue in taking the money.
He said: “Of course I take a salary, I have made substantial financial sacrifice, as have many of my colleagues, to be there to protest.”
A surprised Maitlis responded: “You take the salary from a place that you despise, that you don’t want to be a part of, that you can’t behave in?”
But the MEP was insisted it was fine. He said: “The salary is respectfully ours because it’s paid for by the British taxpayers who have put us there to be there their voice. So I have no problem and no shame in taking the salary.”
“You chose to be elected to a parliament you don’t believe in!” mocked Maitlis.
“Of course that’s why I stood. And people knew I was standing for that parliament,” insisted the Brexiteer.
The conversation moved to the principle of protesting while still taking the money from the European parliament. Presenter Maitlis pointed out that Sinn Fein protest by not turning up, but also do not take their salary.
“We are certainly not Sinn Fein!” responded Monteith. “I make no apologies for saying the Brexit Party is not like Sinn Fein.”
Later on in the interview the subject moved to the MEP’s residency in France.
Maitlis enquired: “You applied as an MEP with a French address saying you have moved to the North East. So you’ve moved out of France and you’re now a resident in the North East of England?”
“It’s very interesting you raise that because it’s another Remainer distraction,” replied Monteith dodging the question.
“No I’m just asking a question,” insisted Maitlis.
The Brexiteer continued: “The rules allow me to stand as a candidate from my French address, and that was in the public domain and I made it plain that’s where I stayed.”
Continuing the line of question, the presenter asked again: “So you’re still living in France?”
“As I also made plain I was in the proccess of moving to the UK, and I will be in the UK in the not so distant future,” said Monteith.
A baffled Maitlis told the MEP: “So as it stands you’re a member of the Brexit Party in England, and an MEP in the parliament you don’t want to sit in living in France.”
But he saw no irony in this. As he claimed other politicians were doing the same, he told Newsnight: “It happens all the time, it happens to be the rules. It is a sidetrack issue from sore losers.”