Farage 'proud' of European alliance with ex-FN MEP
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Friday June 20 2014
The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times, BBC News and political news website Politics.co.uk report on UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s ‘pride’ at forming a political grouping in the European Parliament comprising two MEPs from Swedish Democrats, a party founded by white supremacists, and a former member of the French National Front.
Farage admitted French MEP, Joëlle Bergeron, to his Europe of Freedom and Democracy grouping in the European Parliament though Bergeron, was elected for France’s National Front party last month. She left Marine Le Pen’s party two days after the elections writing to the EFD’s secretary general, Emmanuel Bordez, to confirm that “their [FN] philosophy is no longer mine.”
UKIP has also joined forces with the Swedish Democrats allowing MEPs Kristina Winberg and Peter Lundgren to join the grouping. The Swedish party was founded by white supremacists and includes a former member of the Waffen SS. Although the party’s members wore Nazi uniforms to meetings, the party introduced a ban on uniforms in 1995 as part of its shift to base its policies upon the universal declaration of human rights.
UKIP claims it has not backtracked on a promise to avoid alliances with far right parties observing that both Winberg and Lundgren have written to EFD president and UKIP leader, Farage, distancing themselves from their party’s past.
In a statement under the heading “We acknowledge and learn from our mistakes”, the party said: “The worst of these mistakes was that the party didn’t distance itself from radical youths with subcultural looks and that these were allowed to participate in some of the party demonstrations.”
However, according to the Daily Telegraph last month, three of the party’s MPs were videoed in 2012 telling a Swedish-Kurdish comedian, Soran Ismail, that Sweden was “my country, not your country”.
The benefits of the alliance struck by Farage is estimated by think-tank Open Europe to amount to €3.8m (£3m) a year. Vincenzo Scarpetta, a political analyst at Open Europe, said “With millions of subsidies on offer, the European parliament’s rules create strong incentives for parties to form groups, even when these parties are not natural bedfellows. It remains to be seen whether this alliance of parties that look so different from each other – Ukip, which wants to quit the EU, and Italy’s Five-Star Movement, which does not want to leave the EU and supports a financial transaction tax – can coexist in the longer term.”
Members of the EFD in the former assembly of the European Parliament include Slavi Binev an MEP from Bulgaria, who featured in a video on his website saying: “If Osama bin Laden symbolises the cruellest aspect of the Islam for the Americans, then the Muslim woman with her numerous children are his European equivalent.”
Another EFD member, Frank Vanhecke, a Belgian MEP, told the Guardian earlier this year, when probed about remarks made at a BNP rally in Ghent at which he spoke, “I do not remember if the theme was Islamisation (I rather think it was not) – but had it been so it would not have been a problem for me,” he said. “I do consider Europe has a serious problem with Islamisation, a threat to fundamental democratic values such as the separation of church and state… and the strict egality between men and women.”