New Euro MP with a full-bodied position

Wine fan Tom is backing British

As a lover of the grape who runs two wine-tasting groups, you might expect Tom Wise to be a fan of all things European – particularly those you can drink.

But the 56-year-old, who made his first trip to Brussels as a newly-elected MEP for the East on Wednesday, said his favourite vintage is Ridge from the Santa Cruz mountains of California rather than a famous French chateau.

Mr Wise, who is now one of two UK Independence Party members among the seven MEPs for the region, said: “There was a piece in the Daily Mail about our choosing to celebrate our victory with English wine from a vineyard near Chelmsford but I do know where Champagne is and I have been there.

“Personally I find champagne acidic, and the wine from near Chelmsford less so.

“If I were having a bottle of wine to go with a meal, I would go for Ridge.”

UKIP pushed Labour into second place in the Euro election for the East by capturing nearly 20 per cent of the vote behind the Conservatives, who won 30.8 per cent and three seats. Mr Wise, from Linslade, South Beds, joins sitting UKIP MEP Jeffrey Titford in the EU Parliament.

A former Bournemouth police officer and MD of the UK arm of a German herb and spice company, Mr Wise turned his back on his Liberal past around 14 years ago. He stayed out of politics until 1997 when he joined the embryonic UKIP.

The father-of-two said: “I had disagreements with the Liberals. Europe at that time wasn’t a major issue – it was going on in the background – but I was disagreeing with lots of things.

“The majority of people had voted ‘yes’ to joining in 1975 because they thought it would be good for trade but now it’s about a European federalist state.”

Mr Wise said he had not been surprised by the surge in popularity for UKIP which has propelled it from the political fringes to the forefront, and him from working in the party’s regional office to a seat in the EU assembly.

He said: “There’s a mood in the country that’s not trusting party politicians and there was an element of protest in the vote.

“After five years as an MEP I would like Great Britain to have left the EU, and if not I would hope there would be more public awareness of what’s going on.”

24 June 2004
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