By Mark Wallace
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Following Scotland's selections last week, the North West and London have now carried out the first stage of selecting candidates for next year's European elections.
Readers may need a reminder of the slightly obscure process: first the regional electoral college choose the shortlist. If sitting MEPs are reapproved at this stage then they automatically go to the top of the list.
After that, the party members in the region rank the remaining candidates in order by postal vote.
These are therefore the unranked shortlists, and are presented in alphabetical order by surname.
By Joseph Willits
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40 Tory volunteers, including MPs Tobias Ellwood, Nicky Morgan, Eric Ollerenshaw, Andrew Stephenson (pictured), Anne Main and MEP Syed Kamall, have all travelled to Bangladesh to welcome in Project Maja in the country.
Project Maja was set up by Party co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi (who also joined the volunteers), in Bosnia in 2009.
The project has now been extended to Bangladesh, working in the capital Dhaka, and the north-eastern city of Sylhet. The volunteers, and the project more generally, will be focusing on working with several UK charities and businesses in Bangladesh, including Islamic Relief, the London Tigers, BRAC and Save the Children. Sport, community and health projects were the focus of the visit, and of Project Maja.
"The European Union has shown a great deal of goodwill towards the United States. While opening access to markets is always a welcome move, it must be matched by the USA delivering on its agreement to ditch duties on European products. Removing trade barriers must remain a two-way street.
"The beef wars, along with the banana wars, were a symbol of ongoing protectionist tensions between the EU and the USA. It rests on both Europe and America to lead the world away from protectionism and, with this deal, we have sent generally the right signal."
Under the proposed legislation, only US steel, iron and manufactured goods could be used in construction work funded by the US's stimulus package.
Mr Kamall comments:
"Protectionist gestures from the US and similar responses from the EU will only create a spiral of economic nationalism.
We cannot turn back the clock to the years of closing our markets to each other. Open trade has increased prosperity and created greater political stability around the world.
Free trade helps facilitate wealth creation and distribution, and it assists with keeping the peace. If the EU and the USA abandon free trade, so will the rest of the world.
The EU should put its own house in order before passing judgment on the USA. EU trade and agriculture policy has made our commitment to free trade appear shallow.
At this difficult time, the EU's leaders must not bow to understandable pressures to erect a new economic iron curtain."
Mr Kamall is right. President Obama's attitude to trade has always been my biggest worry about him.
Mr Kamall might have added that it is high time the EU opened its borders to products from Africa and elsewhere. At the moment it floods African nations with its own products, without allowing them access to our market. That is absolutely appalling, and helps enshrine poverty.
Syed Kamall, a London MEP (and spokesman on international trade), has received confirmation from the European Commission that the British Government is encouraging coach companies to spy on their customers.
One of Mr Kamall's constituents was on a coach that was held for two-and-a-half hours while passengers were grilled about how much tobacco they were bringing back from Europe. Mr Kamall says that the UK Government is encouraging a "cooperative approach" between Customs and coach companies, and has chosen to interpret guidelines about how much tobacco an individual may bring back in the strictest manner possible. Moreover, coach companies are handing over lists of their passengers to Customs before the coach departs.
Mr Kamall commented:
"Once again the British Government is treating honest people like criminals just for taking advantage of their single market rights.
The Labour government and Labour MEPs have consistently attacked the cross-Channel shopper and it is high time it stopped. The government should use its resources to tackle genuine smugglers of narcotics, people and counterfeit goods, not to abuse shoppers.
Customs Officers have enormous powers yet there seems to be little need for them to justify their actions. The principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' does not seem to apply to cross-channel shoppers. We cannot blame the coach companies who probably fear being targeted by Customs if they do not comply.
The rights of consumers to transport goods across borders is the most important benefit of EU membership yet our rights are being trampled by overzealous enforcement at our ports."
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