David Cameron’s Conservatives have been so weakened by their losses in the European Parliament that Tory MEPs may now be forced to sit in a political group with some of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s German opponents – leaving Cameron embarrassed after assuring Merkel that his party would not sit with the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the new anti-euro party which its opposed to Merkel’s eurozone policies.
The embarrassment is likely to be intense. Cameron needs Merkel’s help not only to stop the eurofanatic Jean Claude Juncker from becoming the next president of the European Commission, he also needs her support if he is to have any hope of taking back powers for Britain from Brussels before the 2017 referendum.
Now, after saying publically that his Conservative MEPs would not sit with Merkel’s opponents in the AfD, he finds he may be powerless to stop the German party joining the Tory’s own European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group at the parliament.
Cameron’s Conservatives took such a hit in the elections, down from 25 to 19 seats, that they cannot dominate the new formation of the ECR, and the decision to admit new parties is made by majority vote. The British Conservative MEPs have no majority in the group and have no veto.
Certainly the ECR is carrying on with negotiations to admit the AfD. According to EU Observer: “The anti-federalists [the ECR] are eyeing above all the German anti-euro AfD party, a newcomer party.”
Jan Zahradil, a Czech member of the ECR bureau who is one of the group’s negotiators with possible partners, “is tasked specifically with negotiations with the AfD,” according to the report. “He went to Brussels earlier this week for a talk with the Germans and said he wants them on board.”
Zaharadil was quoted: “They have indisputable credit and are very knowledgeable. It would boost the group’s know-how and ranking, too, when it comes to the financials and the euro.”
Yet according to the Brussels blog of the Financial Times, “Is it really smart to ally with to up-start opponents to Europe’s most influential and powerful leader? Merkel struggled to forgive Cameron’s for leaving the EPP [her own centre-right group in the parliament]. She will be furious, say German officials, if the ECR take in the AfD as a member and give it credibility. AfD would bring seven seats but might waste a tonne of political capital with Berlin.”
But in the end there may be nothing Cameron can do about it.