UK gets extra Conservative MEP
A new Conservative MEP representing the West Midlands is to start work at the European Parliament next week.
Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, 18 extra MEPs were allocated to 12 EU states - the UK got one of them.
But the treaty was not ratified until after the 2009 European elections - so only 72 UK MEPs were elected.
Conservative businesswoman Anthea McIntyre will be the UK's 73rd MEP, representing the West Midlands, and will start work at Brussels on Monday.
The news did not come as a surprise to Miss McIntyre - who has been waiting for some time to be confirmed as the new MEP.
The extra seat was allocated to the West Midlands on the recommendation of the Electoral Commission last year and she had been third on the Conservatives' list for the region - the party won two seats and the largest share of the vote in the 2009 European elections.
But the process has been held up because a protocol allowing the 18 additional MEPs to take their seats before the next European elections in 2014 had to be ratified by all 27 EU member states.
Miss McIntyre, who lives in Ross on Wye, told the BBC it had been a "long wait" but once the last state ratified the protocol last week, things had happened very quickly.
"All the member states had to sign up, that was what we were waiting for. Belgium finally signed up last week, as soon as that happened, that set in train a series of events."
Having expected to be asked to start work in January, she is now due to start next week: "I have got my flight booked and I'm going to Brussels on Monday and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in."
She said she would have to take a step back from her businesses - a management consultancy and a family smallholding - but would stay involved and wanted to concentrate on rural issues and small businesses as an MEP.
"I'm really thrilled about it and I'm particularly glad to be able to represent the West Midlands region. It's been under-represented until now so I'm really looking forward to starting work for the people of the region."
Announcing the news in a written statement to MPs, Europe Minister David Lidington said it was an interim measure - and the extra West Midlands MEP would be elected in the normal way in 2014.
The extra MEPs allocated under the Lisbon Treaty were part of a rebalancing of the European Parliament, following the expansion of the European Union from 15 to 27 member states. Germany loses three MEPs under the treaty - although they will continue in their jobs until the 2014 elections.
The Electoral Commission was asked to recommend which of the UK's 12 regions represented by MEPs should get the extra seat.
It did so following "strict statutory guidelines" to ensure each region has at least three MEPs and that the ratio of voters to MEPs is as near the same as possible in each region.
It chose the West Midlands - which will now go from six MEPs to seven - and the region's returning officer was asked to look back at the 2009 results, to see who would have got the seat, had it existed then.
MEPs are elected using a party list system in which different parties put together lists of candidates for election, with their preferred choices at the top. Seats are allocated, on a top-down basis, in proportion to parties' share of the vote.
In 2009 the Conservatives got 28.1% of the vote - and were allocated two seats, UKIP got 21.3% and got two seats, Labour got 17% of the vote and got one seat and one went to the Lib Dems, who got 12%.