Tory lawmaker rocks Parliament’s Eurosceptics

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British Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott won a vice-presidency position in the European Parliament yesterday (14 July), infuriating his political group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which had nominated a Pole, Michal Tomasz Kaminski, as their favourite.

McMillan-Scott, the ‘enfant terrible’ of the newly formed ECR group, gained enough signatures to run as an independent candidate and won 244 votes against 174 for Kaminski in the third round of elections to the Parliament’s vice-presidencies.

He was immediately expelled from the party after his victory, laying bare divisions within the EU assembly’s newest political group, which pulls together conservative parties opposed to a federal Europe (EURACTIV 23/06/09).

“Rather than withdrawing the whip, David Cameron should be pleased that a Tory is still at the top in Europe,” McMillan-Scott told EURACTIV after his election, addressing his comment to the UK Tory party leader in London.

McMillan-Scott could now either stand as an independent MEP or join the mainstream centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), Parliament sources said.

The affair will come as an embarrassment for the Tories, who left the EPP earlier this year to form the ECR amid warnings that the move would spell their isolation from mainstream European politics. 

The ECR’s failure to secure a vice-presidency will diminish its influence in Parliament as the fourteen MEPs elected to the job are members of the Bureau, which lays down the assembly’s agenda, budget and rules of procedure.

Renegade

McMillan-Scott, 59, a Conservative Party MEP for 25 years, did not hide his embarrassment with the ECR’s Polish ally, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), which has banned gay marches for being “sexually obscene”.

Kaminski’s nomination as the ECR candidate for the vice-presidency came as a trade-off for securing PiS membership of the new group, which is led by the British Conservatives. He is a close aide of Lech Kaczy?ski, Poland’s conservative president, who promised his country would be the last to sign the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

Commenting after his election as vice-president, McMillan-Scott said: “The public want to see transparency and real democracy among their parliamentarians, in Brussels or Westminster.”

“Standing as an independent candidate – and for the values of democracy and human rights which I have worked through the EU to promote worldwide – I have made a start,” McMillan added.

Fourteen vice-presidents elected

It is the first time that an independent candidate has broken into the traditional nomination system, which favours established political groups, Parliament sources said. The vote was held by secret ballot yesterday evening in Strasbourg.

There were fourteen vice-presidents in total elected to the European Parliament on Tuesday. Vice-presidents mainly deal with financial, organisational and administrative decisions on matters concerning MEPs and the internal organisation of the Parliament, together with the president. They also replace the president in ceremonial functions.

The new vice-presidents are Roberta Angelilli (Italy, EPP), Isabelle Durant (Belgium, Greens/EFA), Silvana Koch-Mehrin (Germany, ALDE), Rodi Kratsa-Tsagarapoulou (Greece, EPP), Stavros Lambrinidis (Greece, S&D), Miguel Angel Martinez Martinez (Spain, S&D), Giovanni Pittella (Italy, S&D), Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (Germany, S&D), Libor Roucek (Czech Republic, S&D), Pal Schmitt (Hungary, EPP), Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Spain, EPP), Diana Wallis (UK, EPP), Rainer Wieland (Germany, EPP).

Background

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group was formed after British Tory leader David Cameron promised to take the UK Conservatives out of the pro-integration and federalist European People's Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament. 

ECR group parties include: 

  • United Kingdom: Conservative Party - 26 MEPs;
  • Poland: Law & Justice (PiS) - 15 MEPs;
  • Czech Republic: Civic Democratic Party (ODS) - nine MEPs; 
  • Belgium: Lijst Dedecker (LDD) - one MEP;
  • Finland: The Centre Party (Keskusta) - one MEP; 
  • Hungary: Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF)  one MEP; 
  • Latvia: Latvian National Independence Movement (TB/LNNK) - one MEP, and;
  • The Netherlands: ChristianUnion (ChristenUnie) - one MEP.  

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