Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why McMillan-Scott was expelled

The Conservatives have expelled the former leader of Conservative MEPs, Edward McMillan-Scott from the party. This is extraordinary. Mr McMillan Scott is a highly-respected parliamentarian and I remember him as a compelling figure in the European Parliament when I worked there almost ten years ago.

McMillan Scott was expelled for standing against Michal Kaminski - a fellow member fo the newly formed European Conservatives and Reformists - for a Vice President of Parliament post which Mr McMillan Scott had won.

McMillan Scott had always been a reluctant member of the new political grouping - feeling more at home with the mainstream European People's Party and it will be interesting to see what he does next (he had said before his expulsion that he would not necessarily leave the ECR to re-join the EPP and that he had stood for the Vice President job as a genuine independent).

He is unsurprisingly angry - saying the decision is vengeful and fruitless. He says that to be "expelled on a point of principle is disgraceful".

Cameron has long wanted to sideline Europe as an issue for his party and I supose by expelling a member of its European Parliamentary Party (particularly a senior and serious figure like McMillan Scott) sends a warning shot across the bows of other potential rebels and keep the more avidly pro-European MEPs in line. The Conservative Leadership knows the threat of a party divided over Europe and will want to keep a lid on any hint of division.

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