A controversial Harrogate MEP who famously split from the BNP after contesting the leadership vote has announced he is to stand down at the next European election.
Former Harrogate College lecturer Andrew Brons, elected in 2009, has made headlines in recent years with his contentious views on immigration and EU membership.
Forming a new far-right group to rival the BNP last year, he branded his past party a “shadow of its former self” after a failed leadership bid.
He has now confirmed that he will not fight in the upcoming May elections, although he has pledged to remain politically active with the new British Democratic Party (BDP) .
“I’ve done as much as I could possibly do as someone who doesn’t have a main party,” he said. “As one man, ploughing a lone furrow.
“And I think my record shows I’ve not been a slouch.”
His attendance at European meetings was within the top four out of 73 MEPs, he said, with his speaking record standing at number 11. And, recognising his five years in office have, at times, been “turbulent”, he added: “I think I’ve done as much as I could - I’ve attended. You’ve got to at least turn up and express your opinions.”
The former Harrogate Grammar School pupil, brought up in the town and now living in Spofforth, was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 with the BNP.
He made national newspaper headlines after falling out with head Nick Griffin in 2012, narrowly losing out on the leadership by just nine votes.
Speaking from Brussels this week, he said his split from the party wasn’t a political one - he had stayed true to ideals that voters had elected him for - but a practical one.
“The BNP is fragmented,” he said. “Policy hasn’t been an issue - our difference was the way it was being run.
“That’s why I contested the leadership vote. I don’t have dealings with them at all any more.”
In recent years, he has formed the BDP, calling on the Government to ‘send back immigrants’ and ‘put wayward children in institutions’.
He said he stood by his party’s policies ‘absolutely’ and, admitting he didn’t know if he would stand for local election again, said he was committed to staying in politics.
“I intend to remain politically active but that depends on what happens after this election,” he said. “The BDP will be fighting some local seats, not in Harrogate, but in Yorkshire and elsewhere.
“It could well be a focal point for those who want to form a new nationalist party.”
His plans for the future are to spend time with family.
“I made it clear when I was elected that I would only stand for one term,” he said. “I will be 67 by the end of this term. It is really the time to go.
“I will do what retired people do - look after the grandchildren, a lot of dog walking. I doubt I’ll be doing much gardening, but perhaps a bit of horseriding.
“My speeches - of which there are thousands - will be, if you like, my legacy.”