Want credible representation? Vote Labour

If recent polling is to be believed, Labour stand to be the only party that’s in a credible position to represent British interests in the European Parliament.

Besides being the party with the most sensible policies (stay inside the EU, but improve, change and reform it), over the next five years Labour is likely to be the only one in a position to have a decisive influence on outcomes in Parliament.

In fact, Labour MEPs will be in a pivotal position, while other British parties look likely to be reduced to minor influence on the fringes:

  • The European Conservatives and Reformists group was founded by the Conservatives when they rashly split with from the mainstream centre-right group five years ago. But the future of the group is now in serious doubt: it may lose so many seats that it falls short of the minimum threshold to form a political group in the European Parliament. This would leave Tory MEPs facing either an embarrassing climbdown by rejoining the mainstream European People’s Party — almost unthinkable for them — or, more probably, remaining outside the Parliament’s party groupings and thus diminishing their influence even further. Even if enough MEPs can be cobbled together to form a new version of the ECR group, the right-wing Polish ‘Law and Justice’ party will most likely become the largest member. As well as this party’s trenchant prejudices against gay people, it has some rather striking differences from Tory policies on the EU in a number of key ways.
  • Likewise, UKIP will face their own problems in forming a group in the European Parliament. Several of the fringe parties that currently make up their small Europe of Freedom and Democracy group are being wooed by the far-right bloc that’s being constructed by the French National Front and Dutch Freedom Party. Indeed, though Farage has previously claimed that UKIP won’t join this motley crew, rumours persist that he could be tempted if he can’t create a group of his own. After all, they have always been closely linked: former UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, a close friend of Farage’s, used to chair the ‘European Alliance for Freedom’ vehicle that the far-right is now using.
  • Meanwhile, polls show that the Lib Dems are on course to return just a quarter of their current 12 MEPs to Brussels. This would make them a vanishingly peripheral voice within the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe grouping, which itself is likely to be somewhat diminished.

Going against this narrative of parliamentary isolation and alienation, Labour will be one of the largest (if not the absolute largest) parties within the centre-left Socialists and Democrats group, which itself could well be the largest group in the European Parliament. From this powerful starting point, Labour will be able to exercise considerable influence, while other British parties are left at the fringes.

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