David Coburn (politician)

David Adam Coburn[1] (born 11 February 1959) is a Scottish politician and businessman who served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Scotland from 2014 to 2019. A former member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Coburn was the leader of UKIP Scotland from July 2014 until December 2018.[2]

David Coburn
Coburn in 2014
Leader of UKIP Scotland
In office
1 July 2014  6 December 2018
Preceded byThe Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Succeeded byDonald MacKay
Member of the European Parliament
for Scotland
In office
1 July 2014  1 July 2019
Preceded byGeorge Lyon
Succeeded bySheila Ritchie
Personal details
Born (1959-02-11) 11 February 1959 (age 62)
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Political partyBrexit Party (2019–2020)
Independent (2018–2019)
UKIP (2008–2018)
Alma materUniversity of Leeds

He joined the Brexit Party in 2019, and stood down as an MEP before the 2019 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom.

Early life and career

Coburn was born and educated in Glasgow, after which he studied law at the University of Leeds but failed to graduate with a degree.[3][4] He then worked as an art dealer and City of London financial trader before owning a freight company.[3]

Political career

Coburn contested the South-east London constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup in 2010, and finished in fifth place with 1,532 votes. He also stood in Bexley and Bromley at the 2012 London Assembly election, finishing in fourth place. Coburn ran and was successful in the 2014 European Parliament election to become a Member of the European Parliament for the Scotland constituency, as a member of UKIP Scotland.[5]

At the end of 2013, UKIP Scotland was dissolved after infighting tore the regional party apart; the party's administrative body was dissolved, Mike Scott-Hayward (the chairman and chief fundraiser) quit, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage fired Lord Christopher Monckton via email.[6] The main party as a whole, and UKIP Scotland focused on supporting the candidates for the upcoming European elections.[6] After Coburn won the seat, he was appointed leader of UKIP Scotland.[7]

According to SNP candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Coburn repeatedly muddled her name at hustings during the European election campaign, when she was standing against him, referring to her as "Pashmina, Jasmine and Tamzin before eventually settling on a combination of 'love', 'dear' and 'honey'."[8][9] UKIP's Scottish chairman Arthur (Misty) Thackeray responded by saying "How humourless and thin-skinned are these people trying to make faux outrage stories about a slip of the tongue over a name? ... It wasn't mispronounced throughout the entire Euro campaign. It was mispronounced once; if memory serves me correctly, David called her Jasmina."[8]

In 2015, Coburn compared Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf to the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza, later apologising and calling it a "joke". The then UKIP leader Nigel Farage called it a "joke in bad taste" and the then President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, stated that whereas the remarks were "not worthy of any elected member", he could not act on remarks made outside parliament. Parliamentary candidate Tim Wilson quit the party in response, saying he had been "systematically gagged by the party whip and forbidden to speak about Islam favourably".[10]

In April 2015, a Wikipedia account operated by Coburn's office was blocked indefinitely for edit warring over Coburn's Wikipedia article. Coburn claimed he had directed one of his staff to make the changes in order to clear the page of "garbage" and "nonsense"; some news outlets attribute those edits to Coburn himself.[9][11]

In the 2015 general election, Coburn stood for the Falkirk constituency. During the campaign, he came out in favour of fracking in the area, in the face of local concerns.[12]

In July 2016, Coburn declared his support for Steven Woolfe in UKIP's leadership election to replace Nigel Farage.[13]

In the 2017 general election, Coburn unsuccessfully ran for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, securing just 1.2% of the vote and losing his deposit in the race.[14]

On 7 December 2018, Coburn quit UKIP and became an independent MEP.[2] He joined the Brexit Party in February 2019 but did not seek re-election in the 2019 European Parliament election and stood down as an MEP on 1 July 2019 prior to the conclusion of the UK formally withdrawing from the EU.[15] Following the 2019 general election, Coburn applied to join the Scottish Conservatives but was rejected on the instruction of party leader Jackson Carlaw.[16]

Personal life

Coburn is gay and was UKIP's second openly gay MEP, after Nikki Sinclaire.[3][17] He speaks fluent French and conversational Arabic.[18] When the results of the 2014 European Parliament elections were declared, his permanent address was listed as Kensington, London. During the campaign he lived in a rented property in Edinburgh.[19][20]


  1. "Shetland Islands Council Committee Information - Members of the European Parliament". www.shetland.gov.uk.
  2. Andrews, Kieran (7 December 2018). "Ukip's Scottish leader David Coburn quits over lurch to right". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  3. Whittaker, Andrew (27 May 2014). "Coburn: I'd legalise drugs, ban same-sex marriage". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014.
  4. "David Coburn". MEPs. European Parliament. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  5. Whitaker, Andrew; Peterkin, Tom (27 May 2014). "Ukip wins first seat in Scotland". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  6. Hutcheon, Paul (30 November 2013). "Ukip 'wiped out' north of the Border after its Scots leader is sacked". Herald Scotland.
  7. "Key Figures". UKIP Scotland. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  8. Leask, David (16 March 2015). "Did UKIP's David Coburn deliberately muddle name of Asian SNP rival in Euro elections?". The Herald. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  9. Pegg, David; Bengtsson, Helena (29 April 2015). "Ukip MEP David Coburn banned from Wikipedia indefinitely". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  10. "UKIP candidate quits party over Scottish MEP's 'Abu Hamza' remark". BBC News. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  11. "Ukip candidate David Coburn MEP banned from editing own Wikipedia page". 29 April 2015. Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  12. McCall, Chris (16 April 2015). "UKIP candidate David Coburn wants Falkirk to embrace fracking". The Falkirk Herald. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015.
  13. "Ukip members are 'tossers', says leader of Ukip in Scotland, David Coburn". Metro News. 17 July 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  14. "Interview: What UKIP's David Coburn wants for Kirkcaldy". www.fifetoday.co.uk.
  15. "Key dates ahead". BBC News. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  16. "Scottish Tories reject former UKIP leader". 15 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  17. Nick Duffy (26 May 2014). "Openly gay UKIP MEP elected in Scotland". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  18. "In with the Out crowd: on the streets with Ukip's David Coburn". The Herald. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  19. "Ukip's Coburn London-based despite Scots seat victory". The Herald. 27 May 2014. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  20. "European election results: David Coburn becomes Ukip's first Scots MEP". STV News. 26 May 2014. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014.