ALEX STORY has insisted he is confident the Conservatives will back his nomination to take Yorkshire’s vacant seat in the European Parliament despite opposition from within the party.
The former Olympic rower said he was “delighted” to have the chance to take the seat having missed out as a candidate in the 2014 European elections.
The decision of outgoing prime minister David Cameron to nominate then Yorkshire MEP Timothy Kirkhope for a peerage has left one of Yorkshire’s six seats in the European Parliament vacant.
If an MEP steps down the seat ordinarily goes to the next person on the list of candidates the party put forward at the last European elections.
Mr Story was second on the Conservatives’ list in 2014 but in recent weeks sources have been suggesting other candidates could be put forward by the party.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “The Conservative party has never failed to give me its full backing.
“I was overwhelmingly voted first choice candidate by its membership for the European election in 2014; they have entrusted me with three general elections, including last year; I have campaigned tirelessly across the county for ten years for our MPs and party, I have raised over £100,000 for Yorkshire charities.
“It will be a privilege to represent Yorkshire in Brussels, and I’m pleased to say that I have let the returning officer know that I will take up the role on behalf of the Conservative party.”
Mr Story represented Britain at the 1996 Olympic Games before entering politics. He was the Conservatives candidate in Wakefield in the 2010 general election and in Leeds North West last year.
Asked about attempts within the Conservative Party to stop him becoming the new MEP, he said: “I’m not aware of it, and I don’t believe anyone would wish to challenge the democratic will of both the Conservative Party members and the electorate of Yorkshire and the Humber, a quarter of a million of whom voted for me to represent them in Brussels.”
Mr Story, who campaigned to leave the European Union, said his priority was to support Yorkshire’s farming and fishing communities and make sure Yorkshire’s businesses with close ties to Europe did not suffer disadvantages from Brexit.
Mr Story said it had been a “long ambition” to represent Yorkshire.
“It is nearly 10 years since I first started pounding the streets here,” he said, adding that he got to kinow the county well.
“I’m not a native Yorkshireman – I was born in France and my mother is Austrian – but thanks to the friendship and generosity of the people here I feel I can now call Yorkshire my home. With my time in Brussels somewhat curtailed I shall approach the position with twice the vigour. We will be leaving the European Union, but I’m determined that we should do so on good terms, and to help ensure the strong links between Yorkshire and our continental neighbours remain intact.”