24th Jun 2017

British MEP to be kicked out political group for Nazi law comment

British Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has been criticised by his colleagues for comparing the actions of the president of the European Parliament to reduce disruptions in the EU assembly to a law under Nazi Germany.

"It is only my affection for you ... that prevents me from likening this to the Ermaechtigungsgesetz," said the Conservative MEP referring to the 1933 law that gave Hitler extra powers.

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Mr Hannan's words came just before parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, a German, was to introduce measures to curb the filibustering tactics of a group of eurosceptic British MEPs.

Joseph Daul, head of the centre-right group to which the UK Conservatives are affiliated, has said now he will expel Mr Hannan from the faction.

"These comments are unqualified and disgraceful. I respect Mr Hannan as an MEP but his remarks this morning are incompatible with the EPP-ED group's values. It is for this reason that I will ask the group to proceed with the expulsion of Mr Hannan," said Mr Daul some hours after the comment.

The leader of the Socialists, Martin Schulz, said: "It was an insult to Hans-Gert Poettering and to the whole European Parliament," while the head of the delegation of British Labour MEPs, Gary Titley, said the remarks dishonoured the "memories of the victims of terror of the Nazi regime."

Liberal leader Graham Watson said the comments were "plumbing new depths in UK-EU relations and in the [Conservative] approach to democracy in the EU."

Thursday's political scuffle was prompted by the actions of members of the UK Independence Party and some Conservative MEPs in recent weeks attempting to highlight their campaign for a referendum on the EU treaty in Britain.

They have been using parliament's procedural rules to call for a roll-call vote on every issue – rather than the traditional show of hands – as well as the one-minute speaking time allowed to deputies to explain why they voted as they did.

According to figures published by the liberal group, each roll-call vote costs €528.

During the parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg, there were 185 such votes - at a total cost of almost €100,000, due to publication and translation costs.

Mr Poettering last week checked with the parliament's constitutional affairs committee to see if he was permitted to overrule the actions.

Shortly after Mr Hannan's comment on Thursday, the chamber voted to disallow the blocking tactics of the renegade MEPs, which had been seen as obstructing parliament's day-to-day business.

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