It is a delicious irony that by helping take Britain out of the EU, Nigel Farage has strengthened the political project more than ever.
This afternoon the former UKIP leader faced a huge setback when Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S) party voted to quit his anti-EU grouping at the EU and join with a liberal pro-EU group instead.
M5S members voted to leave the Farage dominated Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) grouping and join the more liberal ALDE group.
As Buzzfeed’s Alberto Nardelli pointed out:
…it is now just above the minimum threshold needed to stay in place as a parliamentary group and access places on committees, speaking slots and, crucially, additional funding.
Looks like EFDD would *just* cling on if Five Star left group. Would leave them with 27 MEPs from 7 countries. (Minimum = 25 MEP from 7)
— Duncan Robinson (@duncanrobinson) January 8, 2017
That funding cut could be as much as £1.3m a year if it loses its status as a Parliamentary group. UKIP would be hit hard.
M5S did not leave the AFDD or abandon Farage directly due to Brexit, but you can see the writing on the wall.
Britain’s painful (the Pound has fallen again today) and complicated extraction from the EU is a source of discomfort for Eurosceptics.
Its very unlikely that Italians will vote to leave the EU or even the Euro. It looks as if M5S’s leaders are looking to water down their earlier radicalism and distance themselves from Farage.
Farage today accused its leader Beppe Grillo and M5S of “joining the EU establishment”.
Last week the French far-right did something similar. Marine Le Pen u-turned on her earlier proposals on leaving the EU and ditching the Euro too.
On the night of the Brexit vote, Farage said the UK offered “a beacon of hope” to other countries in Europe looking to do the same.
Instead, the Brexit vote is killing Euroscepticism across Europe