Britain’s Euroskeptic leader Nigel Farage has been able to save his group in the European Parliament thanks to the defection of a lawmaker from France’s National Front.
The survival of Farage’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy, which is dominated by his own United Kingdom Independence Party, looked in doubt after last month’s election, when the Danish People’s Party, the Fins Party and Italy’s Northern League left the bloc while other Euroskeptic members failed to win reelection.
Germany’s anti-euro party Alternative für Deutschland joined the group that is led by Britain’s Conservatives and the Polish Law and Justice party in the European Parliament on Thursday, giving them more seats than the mainstream liberals.
The Alternative, which won seven seats in May’s European Parliament election, joined the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists, the mildest of three Euroskeptic groups in the assembly and now its third largest party.
The Danish People’s Party and the Fins Party earlier joined the reformists as well, defecting from the more radical Europe of Freedom and Democracy group that is led by Britain’s Nigel Farage.
France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders are struggling to find enough supporters in the European Parliament to form a Euroskeptic bloc of their own while the group led by Britain’s Nigel Farage appeared to have won a new member on Wednesday: Italy’s Five Star Movement. Read more “Le Pen Struggles to Find Allies. Farage Finds Italian Friend”
By most measures it would seem the English have many reasons to celebrate. Their economy is finally clawing its way out of the gutter and the birth of the royal baby has continued a wave of positive attention and international goodwill that last summer’s Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee engendered. Yet evidence indicates that, for the average English citizen at least, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo — a fact that often gets lost in Britain’s dual political coverage of Whitehall schemes and Scottish secession plans.
Part of this sentiment can be traced to the debate about Scotland and its upcoming independence referendum. As Scotland’s citizens have begun to rethink what it means to be both British and Scottish, so have England’s. Evidence from the Institute for Public Policy Research shows (PDF) the English no more in favor of the union than those north of the border.
According to the institute’s most recent Future of England Survey, English citizens feel that the process of devolution has given unfair advantages to the other three countries of the United Kingdom — at England’s expense. The result of which is a ballooning level of parochialism. Today, twice as many people in England prioritize being English over being British. The rhetoric of the Scottish government and the Scottish National Party in particular, which is often aimed at driving a wedge between England and Scotland, must bear part of the responsibility. As they focus on what is unique about Scottish culture, they remind England what is unique about its culture too. However, England’s negative feelings do not end simply with Scotland. Read more “Euroskepticism, Scottish Nationalism Fuel English Discontent”
The rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party in Thursday’s local elections was a “very English anti-establishment revolt,” wrote the BBC’s Nick Robinson on Friday. People didn’t vote for Nigel Farage’s party so as much as “none of the above” to express their discontent with the other three major parties.
UKIP, a right-wing party that advocates a British exit from the European Union, lower taxes and tougher immigration laws, didn’t manage to take control of any of the 35 English county legislatures that were up for reelection but got 23 percent support across the country. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives won just a quarter of the votes, down from 33 percent four years ago. Read more “Euroskeptics Lead English “Revolt” Against Major Parties”
Nigel Farage on Sunday ruled out a coalition with Britain’s Conservative after the next election unless there is a change in leadership. “With David Cameron as leader, that is virtually impossible to even contemplate,” he said on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.
The premier, said Farage, who is a member of the European Parliament, has dismissed his United Kingdom Independence Party even if it now polls higher than Cameron’s coalition partners, the pro-European Liberal Democrats.
Mr Cameron, whenever he’s asked about UKIP, just throws abuse at us and calls us nutters and closet racists so I don’t think there’s any prospect of us doing a deal with the Conservative Party with Mr Cameron in charge.
On the same program, William Hague, the former Conservative Party leader and incumbent foreign minister, promised, “In the end, the people will have their say in general elections,” but wouldn’t express support for a referendum on British membership outright. Read more “Farage Rejects Coalition With Cameron’s Conservatives”
Could 2012 be the year that the United Kingdom Independence Party breaks into the British political system as more than a Euroskeptic platform? The scenario looks more likely after last week’s local elections. Nigel Farage’s party averaged 13 percent of the vote.
In the last month, according to a YouGov poll, UKIP was the third most popular party in the United Kingdom. They have doubled their support since last year and surpassed the Liberal Democrats, currently in government with the Conservatives, by 1 percentage point. Read more “UK Independence Party Appeals to Right-Wing Voters”