This morning in the plenary chamber Martin Schulz announced that two MEPs have joined UKIP’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) political grouping.
The first of these is Mike Nattrass, though he is actually rejoining after quitting the group in June 2010. Mr Nattrass left the group because, as he said, he did not want to sit with MEPs “who do not wish to leave the EU and have very odd views on many issues which are incompatible with my own”. He also said that by remaining a member of the EFD he “would be condoning this progressive destruction of our cherished institutions” and would be ‘far more effective’ as a non-attached MEP.
Perhaps more intriguingly, the newest member of the EFD is Slavcho (aka Slavi) Binev from Bulgaria. Mr Binev was elected in 2009 as an MEP for Attack, a far-right nationalist party, that he has since left. The Attack party has been involved in a number of scandals, most notably in 2006 when then leader Dimitar Stoyanov made racist and misogynistic remarks about another Bulgarian MEP. What’s more Mr Binev was named in a 2005 US diplomatic cable on organised crime as heading the MIG entertainment group whose “criminal activities include prostitution, narcotics, and trafficking stolen automobiles”.
UKIP are a strange bunch with stranger friends and this acceptance of Slavi Binev is further proof. It’s worth remembering another person who felt the need to leave the EFD, Nikki Sinclaire who resigned from the EFD citing her displeasure at what she claims to be some of the racist, extremist parties that belong to the group. Sinclaire was subsequently expelled from UKIP for refusing to be part of the EFD group, but went on to win an Employment Tribunal claim for sex discrimination against them.
Farage may be feeling confident after UKIP’s showing in the recent by-elections, but he should show a bit more care about his public perception. I have already spoken about Godfrey Bloom’s sharing wine with fascist leader Marine le Pen and now Farage has decided to campaign against gay marriage in order to steal votes from the Tories. Farage, it appears, is well on the way to exposing the extreme-right and bigoted character of UKIP.