Geoffrey Van Orden is a former soldier and senior politician. He was the last leader of the British Conservatives in the European Parliament before Britain left the EU on 31 January 2020. He had been re-elected five times since 1999 by the British people as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP - “European Senator”).
Before entering politics he was a military intelligence officer for 30 years. His first operational posting was to Borneo in 1965 in defence of the newly-formed state of Malaysia during the “Confrontation” war. He went on to become a counter terrorism specialist and at the age of 27 was awarded the MBE for special duties in Northern Ireland at the height of the IRA terrorist troubles in the early 1970s (MBE is literally “Member of the Order of the British Empire”, an honour first introduced by King George V during World War I. He was subsequently promoted to be a Commander of the Order (CBE), for political services). He first visited Kashmir in 1977 with the Indian Army, Sri Lanka in 1977 with the Sri Lankan armed forces, and Israel in 1984 with the Israeli Defence Forces. He visits all these countries regularly. He spent over 5 years in Berlin and in 1989, before the Fall of the Wall, was Chief of Staff of the British Sector and Head of the Military Intelligence Staff. He attended the Indian Defence Service Staff College and instructed at the German General Staff College. His last military appointment was at NATO Headquarters in Brussels in 1994 as a Brigadier (Brigadier-General).
From the time of his first election to the European Parliament he was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He became its Vice Chairman, a member of the Defence Committee and the Conservative Foreign Affairs and Defence Spokesman. He was also Vice Chairman of the Special Committee on Terrorism. He led the opposition to the EU’s defence policies and called consistently for revitalisation of the NATO alliance. He chaired the Delegation for Relations with India and the Friends of Sri Lanka, was the founding Co-Chairman of the Asia-Europe Political Forum and a long-standing member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with Turkey.
He is a Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and writes regularly on security and defense issues.