Former Labour leader Green quits as MEP

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The Independent Online
PAULINE GREEN, the former European Socialist Group leader, will quit the European Parliament at the end of the year, the Labour Party announced yesterday.

Ms Green will step down as an MEP to become the first female chief executive of the Co-operative Union on New Year's Day, earning a salary of pounds 64,000. Her five-year leadership of Strasbourg's largest grouping ended with protests over her support for the European Commission, which later resigned en masse over fraud and mismanagement claims.

Ms Green, 50, who lost her seat on Labour's ruling NEC last month, was also criticised for the way she used the perks of her position, such as her official limousine. Until she was deposed as leader of the Socialist Group, the former policewoman was even touted by some Labour officials as a possible contender for Mayor of London.

She partly blamed her downfall on clashes with MEPs over her attempts to reform the expenses system, saying these "self-inflicted wounds" had damaged the parliament. In her resignation letter toTony Blair, Ms Green said being leader had been an "immense privilege" and a "unique experience".

One of the capital's four Labour MEPs, she was elected for London North in 1989, having previously been a parliamentary worker for the Co-operative Union. In his reply, Mr Blair praised Ms Green's record.

He said: "Pauline has served the Labour Party and the people of London in an outstanding capacity over the last 10 years as a Member of the European Parliament. Whilst it will be very sad for me personally to see her go, I am delighted for Pauline and know that she will put as much vigour and energy into this job as she has in all the others she has undertaken."

He said she had been held in the highest regard by prime ministers and leaders, adding: "Her reputation throughout Europe is as someone who has worked tirelessly to bring Europe closer to real people, to modernise the European Parliament and develop real understanding and co-operation between governments."