YORKSHIRE’s new Members of the European Parliament were still pinching themselves today as they joined their UK Independence Party colleagues for a celebration in London.
Just hours earlier at Leeds Town Hall, Jane Collins, Amjad Bashir and Mike Hookem had discovered they will represent the region in Brussels and Strasbourg after Ukip won 31 per cent of the vote in Yorkshire, enough to claim three of the region’s six European Parliament seats.
It was the first time one party had won three Yorkshire seats since the 1999 European elections.
As the third person on Ukip’s list of candidates for Yorkshire, Mike Hookem knew he would only become an MEP if the party enjoyed a significant victory.
“Honestly, I was surprised,” he said.
“I thought we would get two in and when we were looking at the figures I was being a pessimist and saying ‘let’s wait and see’.”
Mr Hookem went into politics after running home renovation and shop and laboratory fitting companies as well as serving with the armed forces.
“If it did happen, I’ve been prepared for that. In my previous working life I always worked away from home so I am prepared for that. I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in.”
East Hardwick-born Ms Collins ran a business rehabilitating racehorses and showjumpers before meeting former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom.
She became his campaign manager before standing in her own right in by-elections for the Westminster seats in Barnsley and Rotherham, coming second on both occasions.
Mr Bashir arrived in the UK from Pakistan at the age of eight not speaking English. After selling perfume door-to-door with his father he went on to study at Bradford University.
He later built up the Zouk restaurant business before commiting himself to politics full time in 2012, acting as the party’s small business spokesman.
Labour increased their number of Yorkshire MEPs from one to two with Richard Corbett, who lost his seat in 2009, returning to join Linda McAvan.
But the Conservatives were reduced from two to just one Yorkshire MEP, Timothy Kirkhope.
The Liberal Democrats lost their Yorkshire seat, bringing an end to 30 years representing the region in the European Parliament for Edward McMillan Scott.