Thursday, 12 March 2009


And so it came to pass. It has taken them years to do it but the Tory MEPs have finally split from the European Peoples' Party, the home of European conservatives, of Merkel and of Sarkozy.

This leaves quite a lot of their older MEPs unhappy, because the European Parliament is the one place left where pro-European Tories are still to be found, but the EPP's federalist stance is anathma to the party in Britain.

Did they jump or were they pushed? EPP bosses said "time's up." They wouldn't allow the Tories to be involved in election planning unless they declared their intentions.

But maybe the exact timing of the decision had something to do with Tuesday's exchange in the Strasbourg chamber during a long session of votes.

A British Tory got up to grumble about the excessive number of roll call votes that had been called, each one slowing the process. "Some of us want to get to lunch," he declared.

A German Liberal rose: "Mr President. Every one of these roll call votes has been requested by the EPP!"

It was the final straw.

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