Things are not going too smoothly for the UK Conservative party and its new ‘European Conservatives and Reformists’ group. Apparently the group had agreed to nominate Michal Tomasz Kaminski from Poland to become one of the Parliament’s vice presidents. However, the veteran Conservative MEP Edward McMillian-Scott decided to nominate himself as well – and won the job, which annoyed the Conservative’s Polish partners….
The end result is that the UK Conservatives had to give the leadership of ECR to Kaminski to keep the group together (see BBC coverage), whilst McMillan-Scott was expelled from the party, and is now sitting as an independent (see his news page).
Tony Barber on the FT’s Brussels blog is not impressed:
If it were not funny, it would be tragic. The UK Conservative party’s decision to quit the European People’s Party (EPP), the main centre-right political group in the European Parliament, is backfiring on the Tories in spectacular fashion…McMillan-Scott…, has now effectively been kicked out of the ECR, and the Tories are being led by a Pole. This, to put it mildly, was not in David Cameron’s script when he led his party out of the mainstream EPP group.
…To meet the requirement that an officially recognised faction should have at least 25 MEPs from seven countries, the ECR has been cobbled together out of 26 Tories, 15 Poles, nine Czechs and a solitary politician each from Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands …. The Tories are bound to spend half their time nursing the egos of the last five individuals, any two of whom could destroy the group by leaving it.
And he adds:
Perhaps the most important development this week has been the decision of the EPP, the centre-left and the centrist liberals – the assembly’s three largest groups – to form a broad ”pro-European bloc”. This will reinforce the marginalisation of the Tories, who will find themselves on the fringes of the legislature in the company of French communists, assorted Greens, anti-Islamic populists and extreme rightists such as the British National Party.