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Ukip's EU funding at risk after M5S votes to quit Nigel Farage's Brussels group

Members of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement have voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with Nigel Farage and his MEPs in the European parliament, raising the prospect of a Ukip losing some of its EU funding

10 January 2017, 8:26am
 Nigel Farage scorned M5S’s plans to sever ties, saying its founder Beppe Grillo wanted to join ‘the Euro-fanatic establishment'
Nigel Farage scorned M5S’s plans to sever ties, saying its founder Beppe Grillo wanted to join ‘the Euro-fanatic establishment'
A possible departure of members of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement (M5S) from the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) could put funding at risk.

The EFDD had 44 MEPs from eight countries before Monday’s vote, where M5S members voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with Nigel Farage and his MEPs in the European parliament. Yet, most members of the EFDD were from Ukip or M5S. France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden provided a handful of members to make up the numbers and meet EU requirements for a quarter of member states to be represented.

Should the M5S pursue to sever ties with the group, it would only take the departure of one non-British MEP or three Ukip MEPs for Farage’s group to collapse, the Guardian newspaper reported. Their departure would also put the EEDD and Ukip’s EU funding at risk, it added.

The European parliament has eight political groups, which shared €61 million in funding in 2015, and money is closely tied to group size.

Almost 80% of M5S’s 40,000 members voted to join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the liberal bloc led by the former Belgian Prime Minister and Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt. Only 16% voted to stay in the Farage-led Eurosceptic group EFDD.

Farage scorned Grillo’s attempts to leave, accusing the comedian and M5S founder of seeking to join the “Euro-fanatic establishment”. Grillo, on the other hand, wished Farage all the best as a possible British ambassador to the US, an idea floated by Donald Trump to the consternation of the British government.

However, the Italian MEPs’ plan collapsed on Monday evening, when Verhofstadt’s group rejected an alliance with M5S.

According to an EFDD spokesman, M5S’s 17 MEPs remain part of the group and have made no formal application to leave, but the large vote in favour of abandoning Ukip will put huge pressure on them to quit the EFDD.Ukip's EU funding at risk after M5S votes to quit Nigel Farage's Brussels groupUkip's EU funding at risk after M5S votes to quit Nigel Farage's Brussels group