With the Conservatives now back in power in the UK, there were a few in Brussels wondering whether the Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament will now seek to rejoin the majority centre-right EPP grouping to regain some clout in the chamber. However, this scenario has today been venomously dismissed by one such MEP.
Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson
, who represents Scotland in the parliament, has been quoted by theparliament.com
as saying there is "no chance
" of his fellow Tory MEPs rejoining or seeking to rejoin the EPP group which it left to form the European Conservatives and Reformists
group in June 2009.
Mr Stevenson was responding to speculation that Britain’s new PM David Cameron is under pressure to rejoin parliament's biggest political group from French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel, both of whom he is planning to visit later this week. Indeed his party’s decision to leave the group has been publicly criticised
by the pair, with Mr Sarkozy stating in a March press conference with Gordon Brown in Downing Street "if you want to me to say that I regret his (Cameron's) decision on the EPP, my answer is yes.
Also questioned on whether the appointment of the ‘moderate’ David Lidington as Britain's new Europe minister is indeed a sign of an end to Tory hostility to the EU
, Mr Stevenson reminded that he had "stood shoulder to shoulder
" alongside the last Tory PM John Major
as he fought a raging battle with his party's eurosceptics.
Even so, Mr Stevenson said the chances of his group rejoining the centre-right EPP alliance was "definitely not on the agenda
". “There is no doubt that [David] Lidington is more Euro-centrist than [Mark] Francois and that his appointment is welcome,
” he said.
“But us rejoining the EPP is not going to happen. I am not even sure the EPP would want that. They still feel a lot of frustration and anger about us leaving and would be in no hurry to welcome us back."
So what does he believe the future will hold for his group in Parliament? "I think you will see the ECR actually expand in the coming legislature with us recruiting more allies,
" he said.