Just days after losing his European Parliamentary seat, Martin Callanan has been tipped to be the next British appointment to the European Commission.
The North-Easterner was leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) at the European Parliament until he lost his seat on Sunday.
Callanan was instrumental in establishing the ECR group when Prime Minister David Cameron pulled the Conservatives out of the European People’s Party as they were too pro-European. He remains a popular figure and his defeat is likely to be forgiven as his region is one the Conservatives traditionally do badly in, the party only holds two House of Commons seats in the whole region.
His loss was lamented by Daniel Hannan, seen as the spiritual leader of the euro-sceptic Conservatives, who described his defeat as a “great loss for Britain”, giving him the nod of approval from the right of the party.
Writing on the ConservativeHome website, editor Paul Goodman said: “The former MEP has been leader of the group of Conservative MEPs – and, more importantly, of the European Conservative and Reformists Group, set up to provide a centre-right, non-federalist alternative to the European People’s Party. After last week, Tory numbers may be down but the group’s strength is up.
“All roads may not lead to Rome, but all considerations lead to Callanan. He was a driving force behind making the ECR group work. He knows how the Parliament and the Commission work. Downing Street and Conservative MPs know him.
“His Euro-sceptic views are long-standing, deeply-felt and real… His centre of gravity on Britain’s membership is roughly the party’s centre of gravity. Yes, he has just lost a Euro-election. But he won three others. One of our present commissioners, bless her, has never stood for election at all.”
The comment is a reference to Baroness Ashton of Upholland, who is the present commissioner and has never stood for election to anything.
The appointment of Callanan is likely to go down well amongst Conservatives due to his euro-sceptic views. The party is reeling from coming third in the European elections, despite having a large number of members who are as euro-sceptic as many in UKIP.
Promoting Callanan may start to bring party policy on Europe in line with the will of the membership.