Two MEPs: Julie Girling and Richard Ashworth from the United Kingdom, have defected from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping to the European People’s Party (EPP) grouping in the European Parliament. The ECR grouping consists of right wing parties across Europe such as UKIP which want the EU to be broken up. Whereas the EPP is a larger more mainstream centre right grouping.
In a joint statement the MEPs said: “It is our intention to remain members of the Conservative Party in the UK as we believe the activities and approach of the EPP will more effectively further the prospects of achieving the best possible future for our constituents. We will continue to work for our constituents from inside the largest and most influential Group in the European Parliament”.
The bad weather across Europe and Theresa May’s Brexit speech in London on Friday have distracted attention away from this important story. The two MEPs will be aware that once their term in the European Parliament comes to an end in 2019, they are likely to be the last UK representatives for their constituencies at a European level. This is because the UK is leaving the EU in March 2019, and once the UK is outside of the EU it will be a third country, and it will not be entitled to take part in the European Parliamentary elections of 2019.
While UK voters will lose their voice in the European Parliament because the UK is leaving the EU, at the same time voters from new accession EU member states will have the chance to elect their own representatives to the European Parliament for the first time. According to the European Parliament’s website countries from the Western Balkans such as Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzogovia could join the EU, if these European countries meet the EU’s criteria of respecting democratic values.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018