Monday, May 16, 2005

The "famous five" in trouble

The five Conservative MEPs - Dan Hannan, Christopher Heaton-Harris, Roger Helmer, Martin Callanan and David Sumberg – who so gallantly added their names to Nigel Farage's motion of censure tabled against Barroso for keeping quite about the hospitality he and his wife received from multi-billionaire Spiros Latsis, seem to be having a spot of bother.

Today, each of them received a personal letter from EPP-ED group leader Timothy Kirkhope, instructing them in no uncertain terms to remove their names from the list, by the 19th May. Otherwise, he adds darkly, there will be "very serious consequences".

Presumably, this threat is being made at the behest of Hans-Gert Pöttering, EPP Group president, who promised the conference of presidents that no EPP member would add his name to the lost (sorry, that should read "list" - but the typo actually makes as much sense). If that is the case, it rather makes a mockery of the Conservatives' supposed independence within the EPP-ED section of the group.

However, it is also known that Kirkhope travelled to London after the motion had been tabled in Strasbourg last week, to see Michael Howard, and it is also known that the Barroso motion was high on his agenda of things to discuss. The outcome of those talks is not known but it could be that Kirkhope also received instructions or advice from Howard.

Nevertheless, the "famous five" have not given any indication that they will back down, so we are all agog to see what these "very serious consequences" will be.

But aside from the personal ramifications, it is going to be interesting to see whether the MSM picks up on the fact that the Conservative group in the EU parliament seems to be supporting the commission president against an attempt to call him to account for an action which, had he been a British minister, would have brought calls for his resignation.

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