British National Party leader Nick Griffin has said he is optimistic of forming a group in the new parliament. Speaking to this website on Monday, Griffin confirmed he will be in Brussels in the next 24 hours for preliminary talks with other groups, including Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National.
"We are certainly looking at the possibility for forming a new grouping and that is the reason I am coming over to Brussels. If it is feasible to form a new group we will do so," he said.
Along with 61-year-old politics lecturer Andrew Brons, Griffin was one of two BNP candidates elected in the recent European elections. His election success has outraged the mainstream political establishment in both Britain and the EU.
Following the result last weekend, UK conservative MEP Sir Robert Atkins, called Griffin's BNP "an aberration" and condemned his victory as a sad day for politics. Also sharing the hustings with Griffin on election night was Socialist deputy Arlene McCarthy, who told those gathered for the count in Manchester that the BNP was "a party whose members include convicted rapists".
Despite facing widespread condemnation for his racist views, his links to openly Nazi and Fascist politicians and for his continued denials over the Holocaust, Griffin said he was "undeterred".
"I am sure we will face the same sort of intolerance when we take up our seats in the European parliament," he said. "However, this is nothing that we have not seen before so I am sure we can handle it."
Being part of a group is crucial in terms of power as it entitles members to EU funding, a party office, and administrative staff. A number of extreme far-right groups have secured seats in the new parliament, which meets for the first time in Strasbourg next month.
Griffin also said he was the subject of what he calls an "appalling" article in the Sunday Times newspaper at the weekend which, he said, contained "numerous" inaccuracies.
"Some of the things they were saying went way beyond the pale," he said.
The BNP leader won a seat in the north-west region in last week's elections, while Brons beat sitting Socialist MEP Richard Corbett in the Yorkshire and Humber area.