Catherine Stihler is to step down as MEP early

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 November 2018 in News

MEP and St Andrew's University rector Catherine Stihler is appointed chief executive of data-sharing initiative Open Knowledge International ahead of European Court of Justice verdict

Catherine Stihler - European Parliament

Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler is to quit as an MEP two months before her job is to be abolished by Brexit.

The vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee will step down in January to take a new post as chief executive of data-sharing initiative Open Knowledge International.

The move could be seen as an admission of defeat from a politician who has repeatedly called for Brexit to be reversed.

UK MEPs are due to leave their roles by March 29 under current Brexit proposals.

Three weeks ago Stihler had signed a letter with fellow MEPs calling for the article 50 deadline to be extended. She is also part of a group of Scottish politicians who have a case underway at the European Court of Justice to see whether the UK can unilaterally revoke article 50. Judgement is expected within the next week. 

Stihler said open knowledge, which promotes and shares free information to address social problems, “can make a difference”.

“It has been a privilege to represent the Labour Party and serve as an MEP for Scotland for nearly two decades,” she said.

“I was the youngest British MEP when first elected at 25 in 1999, and I witnessed the EU expand and reform to bring nations closer together in the interests of co-operation and peace. I have seen first-hand the positive and lasting impact that EU membership has had on our economy, workers’ rights, and consumer protection.

“I am now relishing an exciting new challenge and opportunity with Open Knowledge International.

“Digital skills and data use have always been a personal passion, and I am eager to assist groups across the world to create and share open knowledge, and encourage the next generation to understand that information is power which can be used to address poverty and other social challenges.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP said: "Catherine has been a longstanding and committed MEP, representing the people of Scotland and working with European socialist parties to improve workers' and consumer rights.

"She is someone of deep conviction and principle. We wish her every success in her new role."

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