First elected as MEP in 1999, Geoffrey leads the Conservative MEP team in the East of England. He has consistently opposed European political integration, in particular EU meddling in defence. He wants to use opportunities from the single market and other laws to ensure that our local businesses and citizens get the best deal and to prevent unhelpful legislation. He attaches particular importance to ensuring that so-called 'EU funds' coming to the East of England (effectively British taxpayers’ money recycled through Brussels) are more accessible and better spent.
He believes that the UK pays too much to the EU, he condemns the spendthrift attitude of the EU institutions and wants to see their costs drastically reduced, and seeks to do everything possible to shift the EU in a different direction – away from its obsession with political integration.
He is a former senior British Army officer with wide international and operational experience, particularly in the field of counter-terrorism. His last military appointment was at NATO Headquarters. He understands the vital importance to Britain of our close relationship with the United States. He takes a strong interest in the British Armed Forces and has visited our troops both locally and on active service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Geoffrey is Conservative Spokesman on Defence and Security Policy and a former Vice Chairman of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. He currently sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee and Security and Defence Subcommittee, and is also a member of the Transport Committee and delegations to countries such as Turkey, India, and Iran.
He was instrumental in the creation of the new political Group in the Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), to which Conservative MEPs now belong and which challenges the EU orthodoxy. He drew up the Prague Declaration, which sets out the founding principles of the Group, and currently sits on its governing Bureau. He is founding President of its associated think-tank, New Direction –The Foundation for European Reform. Lady Thatcher is its Patron.
He is particularly concerned about the cohesion and security of the United Kingdom and has been relentless in his call for proper control of our national borders, for an end to uncontrolled immigration, and for change in the way that ‘human rights’ law is interpreted. He has consistently opposed the creation of the EU's 'External Action Service' (the diplomatic service that will gradually erode our national representation abroad), and leads the opposition to the EU's misplaced military ambitions - a political project which adds nothing to military capabilities and distracts European allies from wholehearted commitment to NATO.
Over many years, Geoffrey has spearheaded the European Parliament's campaign for democratic change in Zimbabwe and against the military junta in Burma. He has long been involved in the campaign to eradicate anti-personnel landmines and assist their victims. He takes a close interest in all areas that have spawned terrorism and in this regard seeks a more balanced and sympathetic view of the situation in countries such as Sri Lanka, and in regions such as the Middle East. He is Chairman of Friends of Sri Lanka, a member of Friends of Israel and of Friends of Turkey.
In trying to do all that he can to promote economic growth he places particular emphasis on developing trade with countries such as India. He is Chairman of the Europe-India Chamber of Commerce (EICC) and aims especially to help local businesses in the East of England to find business opportunities in India.
Among the wide range of local issues in which he has been engaged, Geoffrey works closely with local farmers, fishermen and organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses. Geoffrey has been vigorous in his support for improved coastal defences, particularly in the Blyth estuary. He also works closely with animal welfare organisations, including World Horse Welfare and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and takes a close interest in honeybees, calling for more research into diseases affecting bee colonies.
Geoffrey welcomes invitations to speak on a variety of subjects to Conservative Associations, to schools and universities, to public meetings and to non-Party interest groups and organisations such as the Rotary Club and the WI.