BNP Takes 50 People On Strasbourg Jaunt To Christmas Markets Despite Criticising EU Waste

BNP Takes 50 People On Taxpayer-Funded Trip To Strasbourg

The BNP has defended taking 50 people on a taxpayer-subsidised jaunt to Strasbourg.

The party, which regularly rails against "wasteful" use of funds by the EU, admitted it would scrap the sponsored visits scheme if it was in charge.

But in the meantime, it is inviting people to accompany Nick Griffin MEP on the two-night excursion, which includes visits to the festive markets and some Christmas shopping.

'This is the ideal place to do some last minute Christmas shopping'

Tory MEP Sajjad Karim said Griffin's party was "hypocritical".

"It's beyond cheek, it really is" he said.

"These people have elected on the basis that they think the UK should not be a part of the EU, that EU is a tremendous waste of taxpayers' money, and look at what they do".

BNP spokesman Simon Darby explained how he could "square the circle".

"Either we take it or it goes to someone else, that's the thing", he told HuffPost UK.

It was better for the cash to be "given back to our people," he said, than being spent "subsidising banana production in the Solomon Islands."

All MEPs are entitled to sponsor up to 110 visitors a year, who are met by civil servants and given a tutorial on the EU and the European Parliament.

Other parties also make use of the scheme.

Guests are able to meet MEPs, and watch debates from the public gallery.

According to the European Parliament, "the public should have easy access to its proceedings and premises, because it sees transparency as important to the exercise of democratic rights within the European Union."

Darby told HuffPost UK that the EU shut at around 5-6pm, leaving time for visitors to explore Strasbourg afterwards.

But the BNP website said the visit to the Parliament would only last 90 minutes, adding: "We have one of the early slots (hence the early start from our hotel) so as to allow plenty of free time in Strasbourg that afternoon.

"At this time of year, Strasbourg hosts their annual Christmas market - a fantastic sight of some 300 cabins and stalls, a giant Christmas tree and an ice-rink - all centred around their Cathedral. This is the ideal place to do some last minute Christmas shopping, or just to soak up the environment of one of the oldest running Christmas markets in France."

Travel costs and one night's accommodation are covered, but participants on the BNP's trip are asked to pay for the second night's hotel stay themselves.

The BNP makes regular use of the sponsorship scheme, visits can either be to Brussels, where the EU is based, or Strasbourg, home of the European Parliament.

Darby said the guests included a victim of crime, a woman whose children had been taken off her, and people who had never been abroad before.


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