Tories to set up new parliamentary group


THE CONSERVATIVE Party has confirmed it is leaving the biggest political group in the European Parliament – the European People’s Party (EPP) – to set up a new group.

The decision follows months of speculation about the intentions of Tory leader David Cameron and could result in a major realignment of MEPs within the parliament. “The meeting was amicable and during the course of it we confirmed to Mr [Joseph] Daul our longstanding intention to leave the EPP and establish a new grouping in the European Parliament after the 2009 elections,” said the Conservatives’ Europe spokesman, Mark Francois, after meeting EPP leader Joseph Daul in Strasbourg on Wednesday night.

The new group, which is likely to be called the European Conservatives, should attract members from the Czech governing party, the Civic Democrats, the Polish Law and Justice party, and several other political parties from the Baltic states and beyond.

Law and Justice, which was co-founded by Polish president Lech Kaczynski, is a member of Fianna Fáil’s group in the parliament, the Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN).

Last November, Artur Gorski, an MP with Law and Justice, was ordered to apologise for comments he made describing Barack Obama’s election as “the end of the civilisation of the white man”.

The Law and Justice party’s decision to join the European Conservatives, combined with Fianna Fáil’s decision to join the Liberals, could spell the end for the UEN, which already faces the defection of its Italian MEPs from the Alleanza Nazionale party.

Fianna Fáil has announced its intention to join the European Liberal Democrat Party after the June elections. But Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley has said no final decision has been taken about whether to move groups.