The anti-mass immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is set to be expelled from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.
AfD has been part of the group, which also includes MEPs from David Cameron’s Conservative Party, since 2014, but the group’s leadership has now issued what the Financial Times describes as the “tersest of one-sentence statements”, saying:
“The ECR Bureau met this evening and has invited the AfD to leave the ECR Group before the 31st March, otherwise a motion will be tabled to expel them at its next meeting on the 12th April.”
There is no explanation as to why they have been told to leave, but the move comes as David Cameron tries to cement ties with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he campaigns to stop Britain leaving the European Union (EU).
Breitbart London reported last month on efforts to expel the party after its leader said border guards should be able to use firearms to stop migrants illegally entering Germany. Frauke Petry said in a newspaper interview in January that any border officer “must stop illegal border crossings, and also make use of his firearm if necessary.”
She continued that “no policeman wants to fire on a refugee and I don’t want that either. But the last resort includes the use of armed force.”
The comments caused a storm of outrage among Germany’s political establishment, and ECR leaders got involved after MEP Beatrix von Storch lent her support to her leader.
Despite winning seven MEPs in 2014’s European Elections, the party currently only has two after the rest broke away to join the Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA), a party founded by disaffected former AfD leader Bernd Lucke. The MEPs who joined ALFA are still members of the ECR group.
The timing of the expulsion also comes just days before local elections where Angela Merkel faces a drubbing at the hands of the anti-establishment party, including in Baden-Württemberg which is traditionally a stronghold for the governing CDU party.
AfD also finished in third place in municipal elections in Hesse last Sunday, causing alarm in Germany’s political class.
Polls now predict the party could hold the balance of power in Rhineland-Palatinate after next Sunday’s elections, causing a further headache for Merkel.