Amjad Bashir


Amjad Mahmood Bashir (Urdu: امجد محمود بشیر; born 17 September 1952) is a British politician who served as a Member of the European Parliament for the Yorkshire and the Humber region between 2014 and 2019. He was elected in 2014 for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and defected to the Conservative Party on 24 January 2015.

Amjad Bashir
Member of the European Parliament
for Yorkshire and the Humber
In office
1 July 2014  1 July 2019[1][2]
Preceded byGodfrey Bloom
Succeeded byMagid Magid
Personal details
Born
Amjud Mahmood Bashir

(1952-09-17) 17 September 1952 (age 68)
Jhelum, Punjab, Pakistan
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative (1997–2012, 2015–present)
UKIP (2012–2015)
Alma materUniversity of Bradford
Websitehttp://amjadbashir.com/

Early life


Bashir was born in Pakistan, and moved to Yorkshire aged eight to live with his father who was a mill worker in Bradford. Bashir attended Thornton Grammar School before attending the University of Bradford to study chemical engineering.[3]

Professional career


Prior to being elected as Member of the European Parliament, in over 35 years Amjad Bashir built a successful business in food & catering that included among others establishing a factory to supply food counters at ASDA (Walmart). Having started from scratch on more than one occasion, he generated in total over 300 tax-paying jobs in Yorkshire and Manchester.[3]

Political career


After fifteen years as a member of the Conservative Party, Bashir joined UKIP in 2012[4][5] and was placed second on the party's list of candidates for the Yorkshire and the Humber region at the 2014 European Parliament election. UKIP topped the regional poll with 31% of the vote, winning three seats, and Bashir was thus elected as one of six MEPs for the region.[6] He was the party's spokesman on communities and on small and medium-sized businesses until his defection to the Conservatives in January 2015.

Bashir met with Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron on 23 January 2015 to discuss moving back to the party, and made the move official the following day.[7] Cameron stated that he was "absolutely delighted that Bashir had decided to leave Ukip and join the Conservative Party". He also stated that Bashir had an "inspiring story", and that "it's another sign that in this great country of ours you can come to Britain without very much and you can be a member of the European parliament, an MP, sit in the cabinet".[8]

Following his defection to the Conservatives, UKIP alleged that Bashir had failed to attend a meeting on 20 January 2015, three days prior to his defection, to discuss their concerns, pending an investigation, into what they described as "a number of extremely serious issues … which include unanswered financial and employment questions" and that "UKIP MEP Mike Hookem had passed on evidence of Mr Bashir's alleged wrongdoing to West Yorkshire police."[9][10] More specifically, they alleged interference in a UKIP Keighley candidate selection, immigration offences in his restaurants and financial irregularities with regard to expenses incurred by his European parliamentary political group at the time, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy.[11] Bashir described the allegations as "absurd and made-up".[8]

Bashir was defended by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan and by then-Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps, both of whom criticised the allegations by UKIP.[12][13]

On 20 February 2016, Bashir announced that he would be supporting the campaign to leave the European Union in the forthcoming EU membership referendum.[14]

As an MEP, Amjad Bashir served as full member in the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) and its Sub-Committee on Human Rights (DROI), and as substitute member in Employment (EMPL) and Industry, Research and Technology (ITRE) Committees while being also part of the inter-parliamentary delegations for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Afghanistan.[15]

On a group level, Bashir was the chairman of the ECR Group's working group on SMEs and also Conservative parliamentary delegation spokesman on SMEs.[16]

According to Votewatch Europe, Bashir's key statistics were as follows: Participation in roll-call votes 80% (629th) [Note: Participation by MEPs in external official activities on behalf of the European Parliament can impact on the roll call votes participation rate], loyalty to political group 90% (543rd), loyalty to national party 98,47% (443rd).[17]

During his mandate Bashir stood as a staunch advocate of the respect of human rights and rule of law while making the case for individual freedoms, including economic freedoms.

As a member of the European Parliament's AFET and DROI, he focused on international crises in particular in Africa, Middle East and South Asia. Alarmed by initial reports from the civil society and human rights NGOs on dramatically deteriorating conditions for various minorities in South Asia, including the Rohingya in Myanmar, he embarked on an own-initiative report on "Statelessness in South and South East Asia" which, with the support by the ECR Group,[18] was adopted by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament in June 2017 (571 votes to 24, with 34 abstentions).[19] Since then, as the ECR’s foremost expert and rapporteur, he co-authored and negotiated numerous follow-on Urgency Resolutions on Myanmar,[20] wrote articles,[21] addressed the EP plenary in the interest of launching a full debate in the presence of the (then) HR of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and VP of the European Commission Federica Mogherini,[22] hosted the largest ever event in the European Parliament on Myanmar featuring the participation of SKY NEWS and MEPs of various other political parties (except the far right) and various diplomatic missions from South Asia [23] and, last but not least, co-organized a fact-finding mission with the help of the Conservative Party and the United Nations in the world’s largest refugee camp in neighbouring Bangladesh (September 2017). Furthermore, he also took action to raise awareness on Kashmir following widespread reports by the media and human rights NGOs. To this end, he hosted a discussion on "Kashmir: A new Berlin wall in South Asia (11/07/2017) [24] with the participation of the Honourable Sardar Massod Khan, former President of Ajad Jammu and Kashmir, and prominent politicians and businesspersons from Kashmir and the UK [24] and supported efforts together with many other MEPs from other political groups to have this item on the agenda of the Human Rights Sub-Committee (DROI) after more than a decade (1Q 2019).

As part of his broader agenda on religion and individual freedoms, he hosted one of the largest ever events in the European Parliament on "Islam and Women" (07/11/2017) featuring charismatic liberal-minded Muslim women from politics, business and the civil society from Muslim countries and supporting speeches from MEPs from various political parties in the European Parliament.[25][26]

On markets and market liberalisation reforms, he supported all efforts toward cutting of red-tape, in particular for the SMEs, addressed the challenge of "e-skills for Small Businesses",[27] shadowed the high-profile EU legislation on “EU-level scrutiny of Foreign Direct Investments” in strategic sectors targeting in particular investments from China and Russia and followed thoroughly and promoted the trade discussions between the EU and Pakistan (GSP+).

In making the case for economic liberalism he hosted the first ever so-called "1st Annual Economic Freedom Summit" (11-12/04/2018) on market reforms around the world with participation of MEPs from various political groups, renowned liberal think tanks (such as the Fraser Institute), the IMF, business representatives, senior economists and government officials and diplomatic missions across the world [28] and also introduced the Austrian School of Economics through a discussion on "Banking & Monetary Policy from the Austrian Perspective" (22/11/2018) with the support of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute Europe and the Cobden Center,[29] organised a debate on "Liberalisation and Precariousness" (28/11/2017) inviting opposing views from the Institute for Employment Studies and Epicenter (two leading independent centres for research and evidence-based consultancy think-tanks) [30] and, finally, championed the option for enhanced equivalence as a win-win proposition in the debate on post-Brexit EU-UK Financial Services (28/02/2018).[31]

His last large-scale, policy-driven public event in the European Parliament was on education reforms, entrepreneurial-driven leadership and worldwide best practises. Organized with the African Leadership Academy from Johannesburg, South Africa, and featuring among others Harvard University, Singapore University, Accenture and a host of senior government officials with background in education reforms, the objective of the conference on “Cultivating Change-makers: the Future of Education” (6/02/2019) was to showcase a changing paradigm, in particular in developing countries, shifting from a lecture-driven to an entrepreneurial-oriented education.[32]

Last but not least, Amjad Bashir hosted with the support from the Embassy of Pakistan, a "Pakistani Cultural Festival" (30/01/2018) in the most prestigious conference area of the European Parliament. This unique event gathered over 500 attendees (MEPs, officials from all the EU Institutions, Ambassadors from all over the world, journalists).[33]

2019 Conservative candidacy

Bashir was selected as the Conservative Party candidate in Leeds North East, but he was then suspended from the party on 20 November 2019 because of alleged comments he had made.[34] Bashir remained on the ballot paper as the Conservative Party candidate[34] and finished second.[35]

Bashir disputed the allegations. In a subsequent enquiry by the Conservative Party the complaint was dismissed and the suspension of Bashir's membership was lifted.

The comments in question were originally while he was a UKIP MEP. During a debate on 11 September 2014 in the European Parliament, Bashir had described British Jews travelling to Israel and returning as "brainwashed extremists". These comments were perceived as anti-Israel and as potentially antisemitic[36] and, when resurfacing (from a Jewish Chronicle exclusive) on 18 November, were condemned by the Board of Deputies on the same day.[34][37][38][39] Bashir apologised for the comments he had made.[40]

Awards and nominations


In January 2015, Bashir was nominated for the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.[41]

References


  1. "Key dates ahead". European Parliament. 20 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  2. "Key dates ahead". BBC News Online. British Broadcasting Corporation. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  3. "Profile - Amjad Bashir: Strength in diversity of city that inspired the man behind Zouk". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  4. "UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir defects to Conservative Party - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  5. Mason, Rowena; correspondent, political (4 November 2014). "How did Ukip get where it is today?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  6. "vote 2014 - Yorkshire and the Humber". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  7. "The moment Amjad Bashir defects in person to David Cameron". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  8. Jenkins, Lin (24 January 2015). "Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir defects to the Conservatives". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  9. "Ukip's 20 suspended members". The Independent. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  10. "Amjad Bashir MEP suspended from UKIP pending investigation into serious issues". UKIP. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  11. "Do these allegations explain why Ukip's Amjad Bashir defected to the Tories? | Coffee House". Coffee House. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  12. "Daniel Hannan MEP: As Bashir signs up to the Conservatives, don't knock defectors – whichever party they join or leave". Conservative Home.
  13. "Grant Shapps defends 'successful' defection of Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir". Coffee House. 30 January 2015.
  14. "Amjad: Britain's future is best-forged outside the EU". Amjadbashir.com. 20 February 2016. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  15. "Amjad BASHIR". Europarl.europa.eu. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  16. [dead link]
  17. https://term8.votewatch.eu/en/term8-amjad-bashir.html
  18. https://ecrgroup.eu/article/ecr_group_call_for_action_on_statelessness
  19. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/CRE-8-2017-06-13-ITM-005-03_EN.html
  20. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/RC-9-2019-0050_EN.html
  21. https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/news/article/myanmar-the-world-is-watching-as-human-rights-collapse
  22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGhRULGWOmo
  23. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/32226318787/in/album-72157678852786798/
  24. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/46451687444/in/album-72157678852786798/
  25. https://ecrgroup.eu/article/islam_women_conference
  26. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157676695092877
  27. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/33301518148/in/album-72157678852786798/
  28. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xAxuRHXn1M&t=15s
  29. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157703924026295
  30. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/32226311677/in/album-72157678852786798/
  31. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/32226316717/in/album-72157678852786798/
  32. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXqV0TTijIQ
  33. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157678953682328
  34. "Tory candidate suspended over anti-Semitism". 20 November 2019 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  35. https://www.leeds.gov.uk/your-council/elections/parliamentary-general-election-results
  36. Frot, Mathilde (18 November 2019). "Tories drop candidate who said Jews return from Israel 'brainwashed extremists' (edited 20 November 2019)". The Jewish News. Retrieved 30 November 2019 via The Times of Israel (website).
  37. Lee Harpin (18 November 2019). "Tory election candidate for Leeds North East claims British Jews return from Israel as 'brainwashed extremists' (Exclusive: Amjad Bashir expresses 'deep regret' to JC over comments he says were 'borne from personal experience')". Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  38. Marie van der Zyl, President, Board of Deputies (18 November 2019). "Tory candidate suspended over anti-Semitism". Retrieved 30 November 2019 via Twitter.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  39. Marie van der Zyl, President, Board of Deputies (18 November 2019). "Tory candidate suspended over anti-Semitism". Retrieved 30 November 2019.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  40. Bashir, Amjad (18 November 2019). "pic.twitter.com/XWkb5CrjrZ".
  41. "British Muslim Awards 2015 finalists unveiled". Asian Image. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.