An historian and author specialising in the paranormal has become the new Conservative MEP for the East Midlands.
European parliamentary rules mean when an MEP resigns there is no by-election, with the vacancy simply filled by the next in line from its regional list from the last European elections.
In 2011 Roger Helmer announced he was stepping down from the post and supported Matthews to take his place. But when the somewhat colourful Matthews was asked by the Conservatives to “explain himself at a series of high level meetings”, with the BBC reporting there were “worries too he could be another Roger Helmer-style rebel,” an indignant Helmer ended up rescinding his resignation... and defecting to Ukip.
Speaking in 2012, Matthews said: “I am shocked and disappointed at Roger Helmer’s decision to betray his public promises to the people of the East Midlands and his private promises to his colleagues.”
Upon Matthew’s eventual appointment on Monday, Helmer told The Times: “He makes a thing of being the great British eccentric. I go to the ballet, he dresses up in medieval armour. Good luck to him.”
Tom Brake MP and leading supporter of Open Britain told HuffPost UK: “When we desperately need to build goodwill in the EU, you’ve got to question the wisdom of appointing an MEP who has claimed the European Commission is prepared to send a Panzer tank division to London to stop us leaving.
“It looks like someone in Conservative Central Office has been leafing through their well-thumbed copy of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.”
In 2011, ahead of Helmer’s defection, euro-sceptic Matthews was recorded at the Conservative Party conference stating his worries that the Lisbon Treaty enabled the European Commission the right to deploy military forces anywhere within the EU without the permission of the member state where the forces were being deployed.
He explained: “So for instance, were there to be massive riots in London or there were to be all sorts of problems, they could go to the German government and say please send us a Panzer division, and if the German government said yes, then the European Commission could send that Panzer division to London and there is nothing the British government could do about it.”
Matthews is the author of dozens of books, the titles of which include Alien Encounters: True Life Stories of Aliens, UFOs and Other Extra-Terrestrial Phenomena, Haunted London, Teashop Walks in Essex, UFOs: A History of Alien Activity from Sightings to Abductions to Global Threat, 100 Facts on Arms and Armour and Elvis: The King of Rock and Roll.