New figures on hate crime should be a lesson for anyone who tries to deny the problem is real, a campaigning MEP said today (Tues).

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, spoke out after the latest annual statistic showed a 10 per cent rise in recorded hate crimes in England and Wales. Race hate crimes accounted for three out of four of offences, while crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation or for being transgender rocketed 25 and 37 per cent, respectively.

Miss McIntyre, joint founder of the cross-party campaign group West Midlands Together, said the figures showed the reality, scope and scale of hate crime and she congratulated police for making sure it was probably recorded and addressed.

"Unless everyone accepts that hate crime is real and we recognise and challenge it in all its many forms, we will be fighting a losing battle," she said. 

"We formed West Midlands Together to show regional cross-party solidarity following the spike in hate crime which followed the EU referendum. My only sorrow is that senior figures in Westminster chose to take these figures as an opportunity to launch attacks and score party political points against the Government.

"Our experience in West Midlands Together shows that you achieve more by working together against the genuine proponents of hate crime than you do by trying to weaponise the issue politically."

Conservative MEPs are in the vanguard of attempts this week to roll back over-zealous EU restrictions on gene editing.

Led by agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, they are voting against proposals to block the import of three gene-edited products - two for maize and one for soya bean.

She said: "When it comes to Greta Thunberg's message on global warming everyone says the same - listen to the science. On vaccinations – listen to the science. 

"But on gene editing? I am afraid the science is being ignored.

"The EU and particularly this Parliament has to decide whether we accept science or not in our decision making. I really hope we do"

She said it was important to keep the technology here in Europe. Genetic modification was safe and benign and there were no unknown unknowns.

She said: "The EU's GMO legislation puts a block on innovation. It is not fit for purpose and urgently needs review to ensure risk-based, proportionate and science-based policy

"I hope that the new commission will commit to working on this over the coming five years and I know industry stands ready to support this process.

"We must provide the most fertile ground for EU innovation we need to keep doing what we do best which is collaborating and working across nationalities and disciplines."

In a separate vote, Conservative MEPs are also also opposing moves effectively to ban two plant protection products, flumioxazine and chlorotoluron.

They are voting against objections raised by Green and Communist MEPs to Commission proposals for extending approval periods for both products.

 

Conservative MEPs are in the vanguard of attempts this week to roll back over-zealous EU restrictions on gene editing.

Led by agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, they are voting against proposals to block the import of three gene-edited products - two for maize and one for soya bean.

She said: "When it comes to Greta Thunberg's message on global warming everyone says the same - listen to the science. On vaccinations – listen to the science. 

"But on gene editing? I am afraid the science is being ignored.

"The EU and particularly this Parliament has to decide whether we accept science or not in our decision making. I really hope we do"

She said it was important to keep the technology here in Europe. Genetic modification was safe and benign and there were no unknown unknowns.

She said: "The EU's GMO legislation puts a block on innovation. It is not fit for purpose and urgently needs review to ensure risk-based, proportionate and science-based policy

"I hope that the new commission will commit to working on this over the coming five years and I know industry stands ready to support this process.

"We must provide the most fertile ground for EU innovation we need to keep doing what we do best which is collaborating and working across nationalities and disciplines."

In a separate vote, Conservative MEPs are also also opposing moves effectively to ban two plant protection products, flumioxazine and chlorotoluron.

They are voting against objections raised by Green and Communist MEPs to Commission proposals for extending approval periods for both products.

 

Mark Green and Sean Mason, co-founders of the Two Farmers crisp company joined the Herefordshire Conservative Business Breakfast Forum at the Harewood End Inn as guest speakers.

Mark told the group he was a second generation farmer, born and bred in Herefordshire and passionate about potatoes. For many years he had dreamt about making high quality crisps.

Being a good friend of Sean’s, a fellow farmer and potato merchant, the two hatched the idea of starting their own venture in a pub one evening. They knew they had the right location, the farm, factory and renewable energy; but they needed the correct machinery, locally sourced flavours and packaging.

They launched the brand at a trade fair in September 2018 - without any crisps! They had designed a compostable crisp bag, placed Hereford acorns inside - and told customers to go away and plant the bag. It proved to be a great success and many left details to get in touch once the product was available.

Now the brand offers four flavours incorporating brine salt from Droitwich, Worcestershire, vinegar made from their own cider, Herefordshire Hop cheese and Herefordshire beef.

Mark said they launched the product just as the Blue Planet series went live and the compostable packaging took off. 

Sean explained how they had just exported to Singapore and the crisps were proving to be a great success in that part of the world. They had recently launched a large “sharing tin” which can be recycled or re-used - and plans were in place to extend the flavour range to six or seven by next year. 

Anthea McIntyre MEP, Chairman of HCBF later commented: “Two Farmers Crisps is a great success. It is a brilliant product and we were very fortunate to have them exhibit at the Herefordshire Showcase which we staged in Brussels last February."

Anthony Snell commented in his vote of thanks: "It is wonderful to see how loyal and passionate Mark and Sean are about Herefordshire. What a great use of environmental packaging and to develop this initiative here in this county is amazing”.

The work of Conservative MEPs will leave the EU with a legacy of better lawmaking and greater sensitivity to the needs of small business, a conference fringe event heard.

British Conservatives have long pushed a better regulation agenda aimed at reducing red tape, simplifying legislation, honouring subsidiarity, and prioritising small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), said West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre.

"In recent years, such ideas have been taken on board and the better-regulation agenda has slowly come to the fore in Commission thinking," she said.

 "The European Conservative and Reformists Group's Better Regulation Policy Group, which I chair, has been pushing this agenda for some time and saw some real breakthroughs in the last mandate.

"(Commissioner) Frans Timmermans, despite being from the Socialists, has proved to be an unlikely ally and in his role co-ordinating the Commission’s work in the area of Better Regulation, he has been very receptive to our vision."

Miss McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, was hosting a fringe event on Sunday - A positive view for UK business in Europe and the wider world.

Expert speakers included Mike Cherry OBE, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, and Tony Caldeira, CEO of the cushion and pillow manufacturer Caldeira Group.

Miss McIntyre said: "When the UK leaves the EU, it will leave behind a strong legacy in this area, much of which is thanks to the UK Conservatives. Whatever the future relationship between the UK and the EU, UK business will still need to export to and work with their counterparts in the EU. 

"We should remember that SMEs constitute 99.9% of all UK businesses and are responsible for 40% of business employment."

She pointed to the Think Small First principle and the adoption of an annual burden survey among several examples of how Conservative influence had improved the EU's  consideration toward SMEs.