A new force in the European parliament: Cameron delivers.

After ten years of arguing and lobbying and campaigning, and many months of “will they/won’t they” speculation, we now have the prize that I’ve worked for and hoped for for the whole of my political career.  Despite all the attempts of the Brussels establishment and of European leaders to intimidate him, David Cameron has kept his promise to take his MEPs out of the federalist EPP group. 
Today, June 24th, we had the constitutive meeting of the new group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).  The group was announced earlier this week with 55 MEPs and eight countries represented.  The tally of countries has already risen to ten, as other MEPs see that we’re serious and viable, and we are very close to having control of the swing vote in the parliament.  We expect more to apply to join.
We were told we’d be isolated and marginalised outside the EPP.  But the reality is different: already other groups are taking account of our position, and expressing interest in working with us.  Commission president Barosso has asked to meet us to promote his candidacy for re-election, and the candidates for President of the Parliament will also be lobbying us.
One of those candidates is Graham Watson, the British Lib-Dem who leads the European Liberal Group.  It is worth contrasting two statements from the man.  He has been at the forefront of deriding our decision to leave the EPP, saying it will leave us impotent and marginalised, on the fringes of the parliament.  But he also said that his own Liberal Group is highly influential, often the king-maker holding the swing vote on key decisions.  It’s odd to think that his Liberal Group is so powerful and influential, while the similarly-sized Conservative group is “isolated and marginalised” (but then we’re used to the Lib-Dems saying contradictory things at the same time).  In fact we’ll be the group that the EPP has to negotiate with if it wants to get its business through.
It was exhilarating this morning to hear our Czech and Polish colleagues, as well as members from Holland, Belgium, Finland and other countries, expressing their delight at the dawn of a new phase in the history of the European parliament, with the launch for the first time ever of a major, mainstream, centre-right euro-realist group.  At last we have a real opposition.  At last we have a voice for the millions of citizens and voters who want less Europe, not more.  At last the dream is reality.  It is a proud day, and a day of promise.

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2 Responses to A new force in the European parliament: Cameron delivers.

  1. Trent says:

    The Finnish MEP Hannu Takkula, who was supposed to be member of the new Conservative group, has announced today that he will stay in the liberal ALDE group. The new group seems fragile indeed…

  2. Roger Helmer says:

    We know that Hannu was under enormous pressure from his party at home. There is of course a massive attempt by the EPP and other federalists to undermine the new initiative. Expect more examples of sabotage. But the new group is up and running, and will be bigger by Cristmas than it is now.

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