Even before the count started on Britain’s elections to the European Parliament, it appears David Cameron’s Conservative Party may have been trying to poach some of UKIP’s allies at the assembly.
The eurosceptic Danish People’s Party (DPP), which tonight appears on track to top the polls and defeat the centre-left coalition parties of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, has said it has been approached by the British Conservative to join a group in the European Parliament.
In 2009, Conservatives rejected an approach from the DPP to join their group, “because of their unacceptable views in a number of areas.” The DPP is anti-immigration, anti-EU and anti-multiculturalism
In the out-going parliament, the Danish People’s Party sat in a group with Nigel Farage’s UKIP.
MEPs must be part of a group of at least 25 MEPs from at least seven different member states if they are to have access to seats on committees and to millions of euros in party funding at the European Parliament.
In 2009, Cameron removed the Conservatives from the largest group, the centre-right European People’s Party, because it has a policy of supporting great powers for the EU institutions. In the last parliament, Conservatives managed to form a European Conservatives and Reformist Group with eurosceptic MEPs from other countries including Poland and the Czech Republic.
However, Cameron may find that he cannot form a group from the same MEPs again; more, he may hope to weaken UKIP in the parliament by taking Denmark’s now-dominant People’s Party away from Farage’s group.
At the weekend, Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP on the eurosceptic wing of the party, was in Denmark where he said he would welcome the DPP as a member of the Tories’ group.
This will all be part of the horse trading as the surge of new eurosceptic MEPs arrive at the parliament. Besides Britain and Denmark, Italy, Greece, France, Austria and the Netherlands will send considerable numbers of anti-EU MEPs, all of whom will be hoping to join a group. Otherwise they will find themselves listed as one of the orphaned “non-inscrits,” the French name used for the non-attached members who are cut out of the committees and the millions of euros in political funds given to groups.