The Alliance European and Reformists Group in the European Parliament has issued the following statement:

The European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) group last night grew to 55 MEPs, putting it just four members behind the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group. With more parties expected to join, it is now increasingly likely that the ECR could be the third biggest group and therefore kingmaker in the next European parliament.

At an ECR Group meeting last night, 10 MEPs from six parties were admitted. Four members from the Danish People’s Party and two members from the Finns Party were admitted although the Finn’s membership is pending a formal meeting with Poland’s Law and Justice Party.

The other parties that were admitted were Nova and OL ‘ aNO from Slovakia, the Independent Hellenes from Greece and The Family Party from Germany – all with one member each.

A membership application that is still pending is from Alternative für Deutschland. This Party are natural allies of the British Conservatives – as Andrew Gimson has pointed out. The AfD have seven MEPs.

Negotiations are also under way with Bulgaria Without Censorship.  They have two seats.

So if they join then the Conservatives would match the Liberals and Democrats Group – who are on 65.

Angela Merkel is known to be trying to persuade David Cameron to order the Conservative MEPs to oppose allowing AfD to join. However a “Conservative source” at Breitbart London raises an intriguing point:

“The Polish and British may well succumb to German pressure not to allow the AfD in, but by remarkable coincidence new membership applications have been considered in two tranches. After the first tranche was put through yesterday there are enough MEPs to approve AfD even if both Britain and Poland vote against.”

Amusingly, the Financial Times had suggested that the Conservative Group faced “annihilation” in the European Parliament elections as they would not manage to retain members from the minimum seven countries required that is required to be recognised.

Great care is being taken to ensure that new recruits subscribe to the principles of freedom and democracy. Of course this won’t stop them being attacked. It is routine for Eurosceptics to be portrayed as xenophobic, racist and extremist. Such attacks from the Labour Party are hypocritical – they would do better to examine some of their own allies.

Eurosceptics are used to being warned of the danger of being “isolated” in Europe. Increasingly they are working together.