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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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Obituary: Richard Shepherd

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The first time I encountered Richard Shepherd was during the run up to the 1979 general election when he was standing as the candidate for the Aldridge Brownhills constituency, which was the neighbouring constituency to where I live. I had just come out of my local news agents and he was on his way in and saw me looking at him as I had recognised him as one of the local candidates, he smiled and said hello. Little was I to know that years later I would be alongside him in the campaign to free the UK from the EU.

Richard Shepherd's principal as a MP was to put, in order of importance, his constituents first, then his country and finally his party. He was always a man of great integrity, hence the reason he took the principled stance of standing up to John Major's surrender to the EU and along with his fellow Conservative Euro rebels lost his party's whip, which as fellow rebel, Christopher Gill, once informed me, was a very tough time for them all.

He was born in Aberdeen in Scotland on December 6th 1942 to parents who worked for the Imperial Airways, his family moved south to be near Heathrow with Richard attending Isleworth Grammar school. His first occupation was as a teacher in a South London comprehensive, however, in 1970, along with his brother he went into business launching Shepherds Foods and later a group of upmarket grocery stores named 'Partridges'.

After standing as a candidate in the Nottingham East constituency in the 1974 general election, he was selected as the Conservative candidate for then Labour held Aldridge Brownhills constituency for the 1979 general election which also brought Margaret Thatcher to power. Once established in the constituency he quickly became a well liked and respected MP for the area and during the Blair onslaught. In the 1997 general election, he held onto his seat due to the fact his constituents had complete faith in him. He finally stood down at the 2015 general election when Wendy Morton took over his seat.

When Betty Boothroyd stood down as the speaker of the House of Commons Richard was put forward to succeed her by, surprisingly, Martin Bell who was an independent MP and Tony Wright of the Labour Party, not by his own side in the Conservative Party. He came sixth and instead of electing Richard, who was a true Parliamentarian, the House elected Michael Martin, otherwise known as 'Gorbal's Mick'. Richard stood once again for the post of Speaker in 2009 but only received 15 votes, John Bercow was elected. Sadly, both Martin and Bercow later went down in flames as two of the worst Speakers the House had known. This was a post which Richard Shepherd would have excelled in, he had a strong belief in the duty of the House of Commons to hold the Government to account. Sadly, people such as him going into politics today are few and far between.

Remembering Richard Shepherd
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