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Empowering Britain: MEP targets EU exit for a stronger UK

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PASSIONATE ABOUT POLITICS: Amjad Bashir is the Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber

PASSIONATE ABOUT POLITICS: Amjad Bashir is the Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber

He’s worn the purples of UKIP and the blues of Conservative in recent years, yet it is the white rose of Yorkshire that Amjad Bashir describes as his biggest love.

The Yorkshire and Humber Tory MEP has lived in the county since arriving in the UK as an eight-year-old back in 1960.

During his early years, he learnt the language, and broke down his own cultural barriers being one of only a handful of Asian pupils at a predominantly white British school.

Today, he continues to interact with languages of the world as a member of the European Parliament and challenges a range of topics across the continent.

“I have always had an interest in politics but it wasn’t until I took a step back from my businesses that I actually started to get involved with different parties professionally,” he said.

“In 2012 I joined UKIP because at that time, they seemed to be the only party fighting for a referendum to leave the EU. I felt strongly about it and these same targets did not seem to exist with the Conservatives who I had supported since the days of Thatcher.

“However, by 2014, I strongly felt that UKIP had outdated its usefulness.”

The son of a textile merchant, Amjad grew up in a back-to-back terrace house in Bradford, and watched on as his own front room was converted into a mini business empire which he self-confessedly had a helping hand in toppling.

Eventually finding a love for the food industry, his first independent venture – Kebabeesh, became one of Bradford’s most loved dining hot spots, before Zouk Restaurant was later launched.

In 2002, his two sons became involved in the business operations and eight years later Amjad says he was in a position to retire from the kitchen and head out into the political world.

He rejoined the Conservative party in 2014 in what was a highly publicised move, following a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

He said: “The Prime Minister not only gave me his assurances that a referendum will take place but he also told me it would be on the manifesto.

“Unlike UKIP, I felt the Conservative Party had the ability to influence and implement this change.”

Amjad is currently a proud supporter of the ‘Out Vote’ for the upcoming referendum.

At a cost of up to £50million a day for memberships, he says the UK is being ‘penalised for its success’ with the cost of membership dependent on the country’s economy.

“Why are we paying such extortionate fees for something we do not need,” he added.

“Speaking from a business point of view, there is just too much red tape involved with the EU. Businesses must not worry that a victory for the ‘Out Vote’ will mean they cannot trade in Europe.

“Angela Merkel will not tell BMW or Mercedes that they can no longer sell to the UK and other countries will still trade with the UK. We will just have more power.”

An EU referendum debate with Amjad Bashir and several other dignitaries will be held at Bradford’s Carlisle Business Centre on Saturday 9th April from 12pm to 2pm.

‘Embarrassed’ election candidate resigns

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A Conservative local election candidate was forced to withdraw his name from the ballot after tweeting that Islam was the ‘religion of rape’.

David Bishop, who was set to stand as the Conservative candidate for the ward of Brentwood South, Essex, resigned from the role after both anti-Islamic and homophobic messages were found on his Twitter profile.

Just four days after it was announced that four Muslim men had been arrested for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, the controversial former candidate wrote ‘[Islam] "the religion of peace" & rape’.

RESIGNED: David Bishop resigned from the election race in Brentwood South, Essex, after homophobic and anti-Islamic tweets were found on his Twitter profile

RESIGNED: David Bishop resigned from the election race in Brentwood South, Essex, after homophobic and anti-Islamic tweets were found on his Twitter profile

Further investigations into Bishop’s profile saw that he had also posted links to videos of the controversial comedian, Pat Condell, who has previously called Islam the ‘religion of war’.

Following his resignation, Bishop released an official statement on the Brentwood and Ongar Conservative Association (BOCA) saying he ‘had let the party down’ and would no longer be considered a candidate on the 22nd May elections.

He added: “I recognise that someone standing for public office should show leadership and seek to unite communities, not divide them.

“I have let myself and my party down and, in order to avoid any further embarrassment, I have taken the decision to resign from the Conservative party with immediate effect. I will not be asking anyone to vote for me on 22nd May.

“I hope the residents of Brentwood South can forgive my lack of judgement in time.”

Louise McKinlay, group leader of Brentwood Conservatives, wrote her own message on the site, welcoming the resignation of Bishop, stating that he had ‘no place in our team’.

She wrote: “David's decision to step down was the right thing to do and I am pleased the party has backed this and accepted his resignation from the team and from the party.”