ConservativeHome has received the following statement from Giles Chichester, new Chairman of the delegation of Conservative MEPs, about the party and the EPP:

"The Leader of the Party has set out clearly the policy regarding the alignment of the Conservatives in the European Parliament after the European elections in 2009.  As I undertook, during my leadership campaign, I will use my best endeavours, working with David, to achieve this."

My understanding is that Mr Chichester is far from convinced that it will be possible to form a new grouping outside of the EPP but he has given Geoffrey Van Orden MEP the task of securing new allies.  Mr Van Orden has particularly strong links with Bulgarian politicians and, alongside the Czech ODS, Sofia may be the third major capital city of the new grouping.

On other European matters:

  1. Caroline Spelman has urged Britain’s extra allotted MEP to represent the West Midlands: ""People need to know if they are going to get an additional MEP to speak up for them in Europe.  A common sense look at the number of voters shows that it is the West Midlands who are entitled to the one additional MEP and the Government should confirm this will be the case as a matter of urgency.  If not people will have reason to suspect the Government will play politics with this important question of democratic representation."  There is a suspicion that Labour may award the extra MEP to Scotland – in contravention of a recommendation from the Electoral Commission.
  2. Yesterday we discussed the new selection procedures for MEPs.

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