Lincolnshire MEP Roger Helmer to quit his seat
CONSERVATIVE MEP Roger Helmer has announced that is to quit his seat in the European Parliament.
Mr Helmer, who represents the East Midlands, will stand down at the end of the year after becoming "increasilngly disillusioned" with the direction of his party.
He has clashed has with the Conservative party leadership on a number of issues and earlier this year urged Prime Minister David Cameron to call a referendum on the UK's future in Europe.
He was first elected in 1999 and, in recent years, has made a name for himself with a number of outspoken comments on issues such as the UK riots, badger culling, date rapists and gay people.
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The MEP announced his intention to stand down on December 31 in a letter to the chairman of his regional party.
The letter reads: "As with any major decision, this is driven by a number of factors. Some might say that it is high time I stood aside for a younger man.
"For myself, I think that twelve-and-a-half years banging my head against the same brick wall in Brussels is perhaps long enough. And I should certainly like to see more of my three fine grandsons.
"But it would be disingenuous to deny that my decision is dictated in part by my increasing disillusion with the attitudes of the Conservative Party.
"I am finding it ever more difficult to defend the policies of the Coalition, not only on my key issues of Europe, and of climate and energy, but on a range of other matters besides."
He expressed thanks to many of his supporters over the years, including previous regional chairmen Nigel Cutts, Dudley Bryant and Linda Kirk, former MEP Chris Heaton-Harris and fellow East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin, as well as numerous staff.
He also paid tribute to Rupert Matthews who was next-in-line on the 2009 Conservative list and will automatically take his seat.
AUGUST 11, 2011: Lincolnshire MEP Roger Helmer defends comments on shooting looters...
JULY 19, 2011: Culling badgers would make shaving brushes cheaper, jokes Lincolnshire MEP...
MAY 25, 2011: Lincolnshire MEP Roger Helmer claims date rapists should get a lighter sentence...
JANUARY 18, 2011: MEP defends 'homophobic' comments about giving gay people a chance to 'turn'...