July 14, 2009
Posted by Antifascist
Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, and his party colleague Andrew Brons were allocated seats 780 and 781 and immediately ran into controversy when Democratic Unionist Party MEP Diane Dodds refused to sit in seat 782 next to them.
After both took part in the election of a new parliamentary President, Mr Griffin showed his unerring ability to generate controversy by hitting back at Baroness Kinnock, the Europe Minister, for refusing to invite the pair to a reception for new MEPs tomorrow.
"I would not want to share a drink with Glenys Kinnock," said Mr Griffin, speaking to The Times outside the chamber. "She is a political prostitute, simple as that. She and her husband started off their careers as anti-common market and now they are there not just with their noses in the trough, they are in the trough."
Mr Griffin further alleged that civil servants were being told to treat the BNP MEPs differently by denying them access to some information.
"We will test this by applying for information and see what comes back, and take it to court if necessary," he said.
Mr Brons said that they did not plan to boycott the European Parliament, where they sit on the right hand side of the chamber behind Polish members of the European Conservatives and Reformists.
The BNP failed to find enough like-minded MEPs from across Europe to form an official group, which would have brought extra funding and staff, but said they would work informally with neo-fascist parties including Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National in France and Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalists with their own militia. A Jobbik MEP today dressed in the black and white uniform banned in his home country.
Mr Brons, who plans to share an apartment in Brussels with Mr Griffin, said: "We will attend on every occasion we can."
Mr Griffin added: "Our default position is that this place and Brussels has no right whatsoever to legislate over Britain but since they do have that right, we are not here as total abstentionists, we will look at each piece of legislation as it comes forward and if there is a piece of legislation we can do something in committee stage to improve then we will."
Mr Griffin failed to get on the Women's Committee as he had hoped but has secured a seat on the environment committee, while Andrew Brons, the other BNP MEP, is set to get a seat on the constitutional affairs committee.
Timothy Kirkhope, the Conservative MEP leader, said: "I am not happy about the BNP being here but they were elected by the people in Britain so I respect the fact that they are in the chamber. If they are elected they have evry right to be here. But I do not feel comfortable because I think they used a political vacuum largely created by the Labour Party and what the say is anathema to me."
Baroness Kinnock refused to commment on Mr Griffin's remarks.
Glenis Willmott, Labour's leader in the European Parliament, said: "Sixty years ago we fought against the fascists together. Today two UK fascists are taking their seats in this parliament for the first time. Today is a sad day for Britain and we will not let matters rest."
Under new guidelines, agreed by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, Mr Griffin and Mr Brons will be kept at arms length from official government events such as tomorrow's drinks party.
"Officials will not engage in any other contact with elected representatives of any nationality who represent extremist or racist views, unless specific permission has been granted to do so on a particular occasion," a government spokeswoman said.