Richard Ashworth

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Richard Ashworth
Richard Ashworth, United Kingdom-MIP-Europaparlament-by-Leila-Paul-2.jpg
Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament
In office
14 March 2012 – 19 November 2013
Preceded by Martin Callanan
Succeeded by Syed Kamall
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
Assumed office
20 July 2004
Preceded by Roy Perry
Personal details
Born (1947-09-17) 17 September 1947 (age 71)
Folkestone, Kent, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative (before-2017)
Independent (2017-2018)
European People's Party (2018-Present)
Alma mater The King's School, Canterbury
Seale-Hayne College

Richard James Ashworth (born 17 September 1947 in Folkestone) is an independent Member of the European Parliament for South East England (formerly a Conservative Party MEP) and was Leader of the Conservative Party in the European Parliament from March 2012 to November 2013. He has served as an MEP since 2004.

Ashworth was educated at The King's School, Canterbury and studied agriculture and management at Seale-Hayne College in Devon.

He has been the chairman of a further education college (Plumpton in East Sussex) for a number of years as well as serving on several public bodies in the education sector. His interests include music, theatre, sport, aviation and country pursuits.

He was the Conservative parliamentary candidate for North Devon in 1997, and for the South East region for the 1999 European Parliament elections.

Before being elected in 2004 he was a dairy farmer in East Sussex for over thirty years and during this time operated his own dairy business. He has also acted as chairman of United Milk Plc and of NFU Corporate. He was a member of the Minister of Agriculture's food chain advisory committee.

He was the Conservative Spokesman on budgets in the European Parliament. On 6 June 2008, Ashworth was appointed Conservative Chief Whip in the European Parliament after his predecessor Den Dover was sacked[1] following an expenses scandal.[2] He was elected Deputy Leader of the Conservative Delegation to the European Parliament in November 2008 and Leader in 2012.[3]

At the first stage of the Conservative party reselection procedure ahead of the 2014 European elections, he was not confirmed for going into the protected sitting members part of the ballot. This was seen as a coup by the right of the Conservative party against their MEP leader seen as being close to Cameron and a moderate on Europe.[citation needed]

He and fellow MEP Julie Girling were suspended from the Conservative party and had the whip withdrawn on 7 October 2017 after both supported a vote in Strasbourg stating that not enough progress had been made in the first stage Brexit negotiations to allow discussion to move onto the trade-deal phase of the talks, but they remained in the ECR parliamentary group.[4][5] On 28 February 2018, both MEPs left the ECR group to join the European People's Party (EPP).[6]

On 1 March 2018 Ashworth was one of three UK MEPs who voted against a motion to encourage national parliaments to ban "gay conversion therapies";[7] he issued a statement on 17 September 2018 that his vote was "a mistake which I deeply regret", and pointing to his other votes that day in support of LGBT causes.[8]


  1. ^ BBC News | Politics | Tory Brussels chief whip replaced
  2. ^ Tories sack EU chief whip in wake of expenses row
  3. ^ Timothy Kirkhope MEP - News - 18 November 2008 Archived 24 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Whip Withdrawn From Tory MEPs Who Voted Against British Interests - Guido Fawkes". Guido Fawkes. 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  5. ^ "May's party suspends two EU lawmakers over Brexit vote". Reuters. 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  6. ^ "Two MEPs elected as Tories defect to join Jean-Claude Juncker's parliamentary group". Independent. 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links

  • European Parliament webpage
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