After the UK Independence Party (UKIP) stormed the European elections, and made significant progress in the UK’s regional votes, the group which targets a referendum to leave the EU are beginning to ‘cause the tremors that could lead to an earthquake’, according to a newly elected MEP.
Out of the 70 MEP seats available, it was UKIP (24 seats) who picked up the majority in a record-breaking vote, with Labour (20) and Conservative (19) pushed back into second and third place respectively.
Former businessman, Amjad Bashir, was one UKIP candidate who was successful in his campaign for an MEP seat, representing Yorkshire and the Humber alongside two fellow party members, two Labour and one Conservative.
More than 400,000 votes were cast across the region and Mr Bashir, who only joined the UKIP party two years ago, states that the results show how the public are beginning to lose patience with the EU.
Speaking to the Asian Express, he said: “Never before has a party outside of the main political parties come in and done so well.
“To knock Conservatives into a third position has never been done and I think we have actually created that earthquake which can lead to real change in society.
“When we joined the EU in the 70’s only benefits were mentioned, with greater trade ties and tariffs but they have failed. All the public is saying now is ‘give us the right to decide, give us a referendum’.”
The party has been called ‘racist’ by sceptics in the past, with former Prime Minister Tony Blair most recently labelling members ‘pretty nasty and unpleasant’ earlier this week. Yet Mr Bashir adds that he is the perfect example to highlight the ‘fact’ his party is not discriminative.
“Look at me,” he said. “I am Asian, I am Muslim and yet I am an MEP for UKIP. You think a racist group would have me as their representative?
“When I joined UKIP I was welcomed by everyone. I have never ever experienced any hostility, any reticence, any negative feel ever. I have been up and down the country since joining and have yet to meet someone who has been racist.”
He added: “Millions of votes have been cast for us and we have gone to the highest court of the land, which is democracy, and have come back with the verdict that we are not a racist group.
“Many are people who are patriots, with a small ‘p’, but feel their sovereignty has been lost with Europe and now they want it back.”
The Leeds resident has been a businessman for more than 40 years, most notably founding the Zouk Restaurant chain which he stepped down as a director from upon taking up politics full time.
With a ‘real experience’ of how European laws are affecting small and medium businesses in the UK, he added that he was looking forward to challenging some of the ‘counter-productive legislation’.
He said: “People want to see real people in politics, and I am proud to be one of them.
“I have got this far in the party on merit, experience and the fact that people realise I have something to offer to the party, region and country.”
Speaking about the impact his new role as MEP may have on his former businesses, Mr Bashir added: “I have not really been involved with company in any way for about three years now since I started to dip my toes into politics.
“I am extremely proud to have helped set up the businesses and bring employment to so many local people but it is completely separate to me now. None of my former businesses have any political affiliation and I don’t feel my role now with UKIP should impact them in anyway.”