Ukip’s MEP for Wales Nathan Gill has come under fire for driving his car to meetings of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and Brussels – a decision that enables him to claim higher expenses than colleagues who fly.
By driving to Strasbourg, where the European Parliament meets for 12 weeks a year, Anglesey-based Mr Gill is able to claim mileage expenses of up to 500 euros for a round-trip – a total of 6,000 euros a year.
A political source said: “There is no need for him to drive to Strasbourg and Brussels. When in Strasbourg he can use a shuttle service to Frankfurt and then fly to Manchester, like MEPs from the north west of England. That would cost a lot less than 500 euros. What he’s doing is within the rules of the European Parliament, but by no means the best value for money.”
A Welsh Labour source said: “Ukip are a party bereft of principles. They talk of themselves as a people’s army, but act like highwaymen. Yet again they have been caught out going to great lengths to squeeze as much money out of the expenses system as possible.
“This is doubly damaging for Ukip, coming in the same week as they welcomed a controversial MEP into their group so that they can claim an extra £1m of taxpayers’ money – ignoring the fact that their new friend defends Hitler and joked about wife beating.
“Rather than concocting ways of increasing his expenses, Nathan Gill should join other MEPs from Wales and England who take the quickest, cheapest routes to getting between their work in Europe and the UK.”
Mr Gill, who was elected to the European Parliament for the first time in May, said: “Yes I drive to Strasbourg. If I came by train I would have to leave at 11am to catch the last train home, thus missing the voting that day at noon.
“Driving gives me full flexibility to leave after parliamentary business is concluded. I do not live near an airport and there are no direct flights to Strasbourg. This is a bit of tittle-tattle mud-slinging I think.”
Asked whether he drove to Brussels as well, he said: “I do both – train or drive, depending on meetings etc. Driving only takes 30 minutes longer than travelling by train, and as I have a flat I can bring my assistant with me for no extra cost, therefore saving taxpayers money.
“As I say, I think it’s a bit of mud-slinging as we get close to [the general and Assembly] elections. I should also point out that driving allows me to stop off at my offices and other places in my constituency along the way home.”
In May, Ukip in Wales came within 5,000 votes of beating Labour to top the poll in the European elections.
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