Barely had the new right wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping sat down in the European Parliament (EP) than the ructions started. In yet another Euro story not aired too much in many of the papers, the Tories have removed the whip from long serving MEP Edward Macmillan-Scott – he’s been an MEP since 1984 – and have had to cede the leadership of the ECR to the Polish Law and Justice Party. Fortunately the BBC was covering events.
Macmillan-Scott didn’t like the idea of backing Polish MEP Michal Kaminski for a vice presidency of the EP. He accused Kaminski of having a neo-fascist past – which suggests that there were differences of an irreconcilable nature between the two – and announced that he would stand for the vice presidency himself. He then won that vice presidency, the suggestion being that many hacked off EPP MEPs, who aren’t happy with the Tories’ latest stunt, voted for Macmillan-Scott as a way of sticking two fingers up at Young Dave.
The Poles were incensed at this manoeuvring – they were expecting the vice presidency as part of the deal of going into the new group with the Tories - and demanded they get the leadership of ECR as a consolation prize. So Tory MEP Timothy Kirkhope has had to hand it over to Kaminski, along with the speaking time that goes with it. The Tories were warned beforehand that they’d end up with nothing by pulling their MEPs out of the EPP – by German chancellor Angela Merkel, no less – and she has been proved right.
Granted, Macmillan-Scott is standing down at the next Euro elections – he’ll have put in thirty years’ service by then – and so has less to lose than most of his former colleagues. Also, his leaving the ECR grouping does not harm its integrity, as there are still MEPs from more than the required number of countries, and in sufficient numbers. But, as I previously observed, five of those countries represented in ECR are single member delegations, and two of those jumping ship will bring the group down. And the impression given by the Tories to the rest of the EP is not good.
Expect Young Dave not to talk too much of this for a while.