11th Dec 2019

Husband to take over after MEP steps down

British Liberal MEP Diana Wallis’ decision to resign from the European Parliament following her failed bid to win the presidential seat as an independent candidate could see her seat taken over by her husband.

"The next official candidate elected on the list in 2009 to replace Mrs Wallis is indeed her husband," Neil Corlett, who heads the press office in the Liberal party, told this website by email.

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Her husband, Steward Arnold, who is also her accredited assistant and press officer, is currently in charge of Wallis' policy matters relating to the Switzerland, Iceland, Norway delegation and the European Economic Area joint parliamentary committee. Arnold also heads policy relating to regional matters in Yorkshire and the Humber, in particular economic development and regional governance.

On press related issues, he heads the regional media co-ordination and communications with regional Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrat members and organisations and others, both inside and outside the party.

A spokesperson for Martin Schulz, president of the parliament, declined to comment on Wallis' possible successor and on the reasons behind her decision to step down.

For her part, Wallis has explained that her time at the parliament was a "privilege" but that she now wanted to leave politics and "take time and assess what next."

Wallis and her husband both hail from the Yorkshire and the Humber region in the UK and they both figure on its regional European list elections.

Wallis won the Liberal democrat regional election primary by a large margin in 2007 with 1,082 votes. Her husband received 60 - enough to make him a second preference.

According to the region's election law, if a member steps down then as a general rule the second preference automatically takes over. By extension, her husband now has the right to take her seat at the parliament.

In the meantime, the European Parliament will need to inform the UK electoral authorities that she has resigned. That process is now in motion. The UK must then inform the parliament who her replacement will be under the electoral law of the country.

Wallis, who spear-headed transparency issues and galvanized a more stringent code of conduct for her former colleagues, gave President Schultz a hand written letter of resignation on Wednesday.

She served 12 years and spent the last five as vice-president. Her presidential election bid saw her come in last of the three candidates on Tuesday (17 January) with 141 votes, behind Nirj Deva of the anti-federalist ECR who received 142 votes and Schulz with 387 votes.

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