Populists Vying For European Parliament Power Could Block Post-Brexit Trade Deal With EU

Rachel Wearmouth
Hungarian politician Viktor Orban, leader the Fidesz party, is set to see his MEPs win more European Parliament seats in an election which could spell trouble for May.

Populist parties on course to win the third of European Parliament seats could use their power to sabotage a post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal, it is claimed.  

The independent think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) has warned May’s Euro-elections are a “make or break” event for the bloc with far-right, anti-establishment set to make huge gains. 

Many parties on the rise are plotting to destroy the European project from within, ECFR says, and, if they choose to work together, could vote against a trade deal between the UK and Brussels. 

With a third of the seats, a new populist grouping advocating a return to a “Europe of the nations” could appoint four EP vice-presidents and, ECFR claims, attempt to frustrate climate change policies, withdraw cash from NATO and block sanctions on Russia. 

Britain, which is set to withdraw from the EU on March 29, will be powerless to stop them 

A poll of polls in the report shows parties such as Italy Lega Nord and Five Star Movement, Germany’s AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) and Poland’s PiS (Law and Justice) are among the populist parties set to win new seats. 

Lega Nord's Matteo Salvini and Front Nationale's Marine le Pen. The pair lead parties which are poised to win more MEPs.

Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour MEP for the North East, said the report “clearly and systematically addresses how the far right, in particular, is hoping to wreak havoc in the EU”.

She added: “It would be deeply ironic if the forces encouraged and nurtured by hard Brexiteers, both Tory and UKIP, in the European Parliament wrought that havoc on a future EU-UK trade deal crushing forever their Brexit promises.” 

It came as May was in the final throes of securing a withdrawal agreement that MPs can agree to, with last-minute negotiations with the EU underway this week. 

Should the prime minister finally succeed, all thoughts will turn to the future relationship Britain will have with the EU.

But the ECFR report highlights how fraught the path to carving out a new trade deal could be, and how it may not be British eurosceptics...

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