Cameron new right-wing Euro group “backfiring on the Tories in spectacular fashion”

Oh dear. How must David Cameron rue the day he caved into his party’s right-wing and promised to withdraw the Tories from the centre-right EPP in the European Parliament and establish a new anti-federalist right-wing grouping. At the time it was a last-gasp roll of the dice solely calaculated to pep up his then faltering leadership bid. Four years on, and something he might have been able quietly to drop – risking the wrath only of his most headbanging Europhobes – has become a running sore which reflects badly on Mr Cameron’s leadership abilities.

Three weeks ago, the Tories snuck out the announcement of their new right-wing Euro grouping under cover of the election for Commons speaker. Even then it turned out that not all those they thought had signed up were actually signed up. Yesterday came news that Edward McMillan-Scott, one of the Tories most senior MEPs, had been expelled after voicing his “real concerns” about the “links with extremist groups” of many of the Tories’ new Euro friends.

And now a fresh blow: the Tories have been forced – as the FT’s Tony Barber reports – to cede the leadership of the new group to Michal Tomasz Kaminski from Poland’s Law and Justice party:

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. The decision was always daft – a bit like the right wing of the US Republican Party splitting off and forming a minority group in Congress – but it now looks more short-sighted than ever.

On Tuesday the Tories relinquished the leadership of their new “anti-federalist” faction, the so-called European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, to Michal Tomasz Kaminski, a Polish politician. They felt obliged to do so after Edward McMillan-Scott, a Tory MEP, refused to respect a deal in which Kaminski had been promised one of the parliament’s prestigious vice-presidency posts.

McMillan-Scott, who instead secured the vice-presidency for himself, has now effectively been kicked out of the ECR [European Conservatives and Reformists], 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.

There are, in any case, serious doubts over how effective the ECR will be over the legislature’s five-year term. 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 (a Finn was also supposed to be in, but dropped out a couple of weeks ago). 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. … it’s a grand old mess, unworthy of one of the world’s great political parties.

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  • How much electoral impact will this have on the Tories? Zilch.

  • I do not see the Lib Dems even attempting to do anything that might defend British sovereignty.

    Remind me again why Nick Clegg asked his party to follow three different conflicting positions in Parliament? Was it to try and force through the Lisbon Treaty without the promised referendum?

    I have fast realised the Liberal Democrats are neither particularly liberal – in the grand old sense of the word – nor particularly strong democrats (apart from when it suits them.)

  • Grammar Police 15th Jul '09 - 11:45pm

    To the three posters above: getting under your skin, eh?
    The Tories have isolated themselves in Europe. Given that most of the challenges facing us have a supra-national element, this is stupidity in the extreme. Allowing dogmatism to overcome good sense.

    Is that standing up for Britain David?

    As for electoral impact, who cares Richard? This is about really making a difference to people’s lives, not winning elections. The fact that the Tories want to sit with a rag bag collection of ultra right wingers in Europe speaks volumes about their judgment to me, and also limits what they will achieve in the EU.

  • Herbert Brown 16th Jul '09 - 12:53am

    “This is about really making a difference to people’s lives, not winning elections.”

    I believe you. Millions wouldn’t.

  • Ahh, another “Cameron doesn’t change the world in a day” article. I don’t think anyone really expected the group to be massively successful in the first term. They need some time to build a reputation.

    Perhaps the anti-federalists will get more interest in the 2014 elections if the Lisbon Treaty has come in (good job supporting the referendum by the way) and the people of Europe are fed up Tony Blair being their unelected president.

  • all i can say is LOL

  • sanbikinoraion 17th Jul '09 - 12:18pm

    Huw, it’s not going to be Gordon Brown is it? He’ll be out on his ear the day after polling day.

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