Ukip to lose funding worth £1m as Farage’s European group collapses

Nigel Farage MEP speaking

Nigel Farage has suffered a blow after his pan-EU grouping in the European parliament collapsed, depriving Ukip and its allies of millions of pounds in funding.

The Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group was forced to disband after Iveta Grigule, a Latvian member of the group, resigned. This meant that the group only has MEPs from six EU member states, just below the number needed to qualify for official group status.

The move will cost Ukip about £1m a year in funding. The group received €2.6m (£2.1m) in 2013. Ukip accounts for 53.3% of the group.

Farage accused Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, of acting as the head of a “banana republic” after he said that pressure was placed on Grigule to stand down if she wanted to lead a parliamentary delegation to Kazakhstan.

The Ukip leader said: “It is clear that the European parliament does not follow its long-term practice of sharing delegation and chairmanship positions in a fair manner according to the D’Hondt system [of selection]. If we are correct in our understanding about the events, President Schulz would be more suited to being the president of a parliament in a banana republic. It would seem he has exceeded his role that should apply to a neutral chairman or president of a parliament. I believe this is an example of political bias on an extraordinary scale.”

The collapse of the group was announced by Jaume Duch, the parliament’s media director. Duch tweeted: “Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule left #EFDD group today. #EFDD no longer has members from at least 7 countries, so declared dissolved today. #EP.”

Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for south east England, said: “The collapse of Nigel Farage’s political grouping in the Parliament shows that his eurosceptic campaign is miserably failing. Most people across Europe believe in a reformed EU but don’t want to see an exit. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a group who have scapegoated immigration as the reason for Europe’s economic problems has collapsed so early.

“When his group was announced it was entitled to significant taxpayer funding. Now the group’s collapsed the money should be repaid.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nicholas Watt, for The Guardian on Thursday 16th October 2014 14.44 Europe/London

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