Less than a week after he was forced to dissolve his group in the European Parliament, the United Kingdom Independence Party’s Nigel Farage allied with a radical Polish libertarian on Monday to reclaim his position as Euroskeptic leader.
Farage’s block, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, collapsed last week when Iveta Grigule from the Latvian Farmers’ Union resigned from the alliance.
Without members from at least seven European Union member states, the group no longer qualified for committee assignments, speaking time and subsidies. Open Europe, a British think tank, estimated that Farage could otherwise have collected €3.8 million in subsidies per year.
A spokesman for the bloc said Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, formerly with the Polish Congress of the New Right, had signed up to join before Grigule resigned last week. But parliament spokesman Jaume Duch Guillot insisted that the group was no longer recognized and would have to be reformed from scratch, a process that could take several days.
Iwaszkiewicz’ defection is politically sensitive for Farage. The Pole shares his libertarian economic instincts but is socially far more conservative. He suggested in an interview earlier this year that it was acceptable for husbands to beat their wives. His former party leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, has said women are too stupid to vote and doubts that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler knew about the Holocaust.
Other Euroskeptic leaders Marine Le Pen, of France’s National Front, and Geert Wilders, of the Dutch Freedom Party, refused to team up with Korwin-Mikke earlier this year even when their own group was just one nationality short of being recognized.
Farage ruled out a pact with Le Pen and Wilders at the time, saying the first was antisemitic and the second Islamophobic. Seen to be working with hardline nationalists could have cost him popularity in Britain where general elections are due in May next year.