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Update: In this post on CentreRight, Matt Sinclair has highlighted the reactions of MEPs Roger Helmer and Daniel Hannan on this issue.

Just a day after Timothy Kirkhope returned to the leadership of the Tory MEPs and London MEP Charles Tannock has caused something of a stir with this post on CentreRight, in which he suggests that it would be better for Conservative MEPs to remain in the federalist EPP grouping in Brussels rather than to sit outside any group as non-attached members, in the event of a new group not being formed after the 2009 European elections.

It is well known that for quite a number of the Tory MEPs – particularly those on the europhile wing of the party – there is signifcant resistance to leaving the cosiness of the European People’s Party and the patronage it has afforded them.

However, not only is leaving the EPP the right thing to do in principle, but it is was a solid promise made by David Cameron during his leadership campaign and one to which he must be held. The fact that it hasn’t happened already is a pity, but with all MEP candidates for next June having signed a pledge to sit in the group in which David Cameron wants them to sit, the ground is being laid for it finally to happen, with much work being done behind the scenes on it by shadow Europe minister Mark Francois and others.

As party leader elected by the mass membership, David Cameron has a mandate for taking the MEPs out of the EPP; our MEPs, who were effectively subject to automatic reselection, do not have the same democratic legitimacy and should bear that in mind if they seek to challenge the party leader’s authority on this one.

Given that debate is already raging below Charles’s piece, there is no comments thread to this post, so that you can comment below Charles’s original piece.

Jonathan Isaby

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