Interesting news as we gather for the start of the new European Parliament mandate. The Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, of which UKIP are the biggest party, could be finished.
Being the leader of a political group has been important to UKIP over the last five years as it has given them access more funding from the European Parliament and allowed Nigel Farage a good deal of speaking time in the plenary chamber. UKIP is now facing a real challenge in getting enough MEPs to form a political group in the European Parliament. To do this they need to hold on to MEPs who may already support them and attracting new one.
The rules in the European Parliament state that you need at least 25 MEPs from 7 different member states to form a group. As it stands the EFD have enough MEPs but from only four member states. What’s more, the Tories with their European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group voted to last week to accept applications from a handful of new parties, including the controversial Danish People’s Party and The Finns, both of which sat in the EFD last term.
What’s more, Marine Le Pen is currently assembling a new far-right coalition that will include Lega Norda, also previously in the EFD. Farage has ruled out forming a coaltion with with Le Pen’s Front National, citing the parties anti-semetic past. Perhaps the bigger consideration for him though would be losing his position at the top of the group to Le Pen.
So we could be seeing less of Farage insulting national and European leaders. Since so many MEPs and their national delegateions seem not to want to do business with UKIP, Farage could also find his support in the European Parliament greatly dimished.