How solid is the Tories' 'extreme and ragbag' Euro grouping?

by Stephen Tall on June 24, 2009

Two days after the Tories attempted to bury the embarrassing news of their decision to set up a new European Parliament grouping comprising some of the more, erm, eccentric right-wing elements on offer, and the cracks are, apparently, already showing (hat-tip: Liberal Conspiracy):

Hannu Takkula, a Finnish Centre party Euro-MP, was quoted as saying by party news website Verkkoapila on Wednesday that he would stay in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, one of the European Parliament’s political groupings.

The Conservatives and Reformists Group had said Monday that Mr Takkula would join the new group.

Does the un-defection of a lone MEP actually matter? Well, for the new Tory grouping it does. Here’s why:

while the ECR’s ranks will be dominated by MEPs from the Tories (26 MEPs) and the Polish Law and Justice party (PiS: 15 MEPs), six [now five – Ed.] of the group’s nine national delegations consist of a single MEP.

In other words, should just three [now two – Ed.] of those six MEPs at any point become disillusioned with the group’s direction and threaten to leave, they would effectively hold veto power over the groups’ continued existence (a group requires MEPs from at least seven member states).

As a result, the Tories will arguably need to guarantee these six [now five – Ed.] MEPs positions of influence in the new group.

What a strong position for an incoming British government to find itself in.