Monday

3rd Oct 2022

British Tory challenger for EU parliament presidency backed by far right

  • Deva (c) meeting with an Indonesian interfaith delegation in the EU Parliament (Photo: KBRI Brussel)

The UK Conservative challenger to the stitched-up election for the presidency of the European Parliament has won the support of a clutch of far-right MEPs, including the British National Party’s Nick Griffin and the Front National’s Bruno Gollnisch.

The Tory deputy, Nirj Deva, however denies having sought the backing of the likes of Bulgaria’s Roma-baiting Ataka; Austria’s Freedom Party, whose leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, has in the past been tied to neo-Nazi groups; the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belaang or Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A nomination paper leaked to Hope Not Hate, a UK anti-fascist watchdog group, and seen by EUobserver shows the signatures of Griffin, Gollnisch and five other MEPs from the far-right of the chamber, one immediately after the other, suggesting the document was passed directly between these MEPs, all of which maintain close ties with each other.

The anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformist grouping in the parliament, which backs Deva’s bid for the presidency, was quick to distance the candidate from his nationalist supporters.

“He has been nominated by the ECR and nobody else,” the group’s spokesman, James Holtum, told EUobserver.

Deva himself was unavailable for comment.

“This piece of paper comes as a bit of a surprise to us. Neither he nor anyone from the campaigning team has sought the support of people like Mr. Griffin.”

Deva himself is a Briton of Sri Lankan extraction and is a vice-president of the development committee in the parliament.

He is also the only fourth Asian MEP ever elected - making him an unusual character for the far-right to support. Last month, Deva won 'MEP of the year' in the area of development, an award voted on by his fellow MEPs.

“People know him as a friendly face in the parliament, someone that can get along with everybody,” Holtum continued, saying that the MEP has been “surprised by the level of support he’s received.”

“It would also be good to show the world how multicultural the parliament is.”

The development comes just as the popularity of the UK Tories in the parliament - which already last year split from the main centre-right political grouping, the European People’s Party - is at its lowest ebb after British leader David Cameron wielded his country’s veto to prevent moves toward a new EU treaty last week.

Holtum would not say how many MEPs have so far backed his candidacy.

But the ECR says it is realistic about his chances and that he does not expect to be able to overcome the agreement reached two years ago between the two main groups in the house, the EPP and the Socialists and Democrats.

“He’s running to ensure that there is a real election rather than a coronation for Martin Schultz [the presumptive next leader of the parliament],” Holtum said.

“To give a chance to MEPs to vote for a leader next January rather than having the decision made for them two years ago.”

Deva joins UK Liberal Democrat and veteran MEP Diane Wallis, the third announced candidate.

Wallis however is standing as an independent, as her group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe, has an agreement with the EPP and S&D not to stand a candidate.

'Abrasive' Schulz could lose parliamentary crown

Electing the president of the European Parliament is typically decided in a back-room carve-up between the legislature's two largest groups, but internal dynamics and personal dislikes could alter next January's vote.

Buzek election hailed as 'historic'

Polish centre-right MEP Jerzy Buzek was elected as president of the European parliament on Tuesday following a secret ballot held in a packed Strasbourg plenary chamber.

Feature

Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

EUobserver spoke with several business figures and all confirmed they voted for Georgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy because it promised stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts. Matteo Salvini's anti-EU rhetoric scared them, while they trust Meloni has "more common sense".

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  2. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote
  3. Latvian ruling party wins elections
  4. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  5. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  6. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  7. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  8. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  2. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  3. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  4. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  5. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  6. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  7. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  8. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us