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UK Conservatives to leave the EPP-ED group

By Simon Taylor  -  12.03.2009 / 00:00 CET
Group of 71 MEPs could emerge if talks with Czech and Polish parties produces a new parliamentary group.

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German centre-right MEP Werner Langen said he regretted the decision of the UK Conservatives to leave the EPP-ED. He said that there had been a lot of agreement on issues of content and good co-operation with the Conservatives in past years.

Langen said that the Tories leaving the EPP-ED would not weaken the group. “I assume that the future EPP group in the next Parliament will be the biggest group by a large margin over the Socialists, particularly if there are good or better results in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Hungary.”

Langen rejected speculation that the Socialists would form the largest group in the Parliament if the Tories left. The EPP-ED currently 287 members, including 27 from the UK, compared to 217 Socialists.

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff said the Conservative Party “had left the mainstream of European politics and taken a turn down a blind alley”.

Duff said that the next batch of Tory MEPs would have “no influence in the new European Parliament”. They would “no longer be able to take important positions of influence within the Parliament's largest group to work in the British national interest,” Duff said.

“The Tories are the only important opposition party in Europe that rejects both the democratic strengthening of the European Union as prescribed by the Lisbon treaty and the completion of the single market as symbolised by the euro,” he said.

Glenis Willmott, leader of the British socialist MEPs, accused David Cameron, the national leader of the Conservatives, of “pandering to the Eurosceptic lunatic fringe of his own party”.

She said: "Tory MEPs and the wider Conservative Party will have no influence and no say in the European Parliament. This cannot be good for the people of Britain, who they claim to represent in Europe."

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