Richard North, 12/07/2004  

With resignations imminent in the Tory MEP group last night, a crisis seems to have been averted following a last-minute deal.

Howard has agreed to a re-structuring of the Tory group within the EPP, so that they can work to their own agenda and do not have to accept the leadership of Poettering. The Tory MEPs are to form their own quasi-autonomous grouplet, including Poles, Czechs and one Cypriot.

Quite how the parliamentary authorities will react is not known, but the very essence of an EP group is that, to qualify, it must share the same constitution. The whole EPP is now open to a challenge by any of the other groups, which could force the authorities to break up its structure.

Why the Tories have to go through these tortuous convolutions instead of doing the decent thing and forming their own group, goodness only knows.

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