Tories set to quit EU federalist group

THE Tories have given formal notice that they will quit the dominant EPP-ED group in the European Parliament.David Cameron's party has been estranged from the centre-right federalist group, which supports the Lisbon Treaty to which the Tories are deeply opposed.

Graham Dines

THE Tories have given formal notice that they will quit the dominant EPP-ED group in the European Parliament.

David Cameron's party has been estranged from the centre-right federalist group, which supports the Lisbon Treaty to which the Tories are deeply opposed. The EPP-ED wants closer economic integration in Europe, as well as common immigration, defence and foreign policy.

Mr Cameron made it a pledge when he was elected that he would sever ties with the EPP-ED.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who are struggling against the growing strength of the Tories in the opinion polls, believe the Conservatives will become marginalised on the fringes of European politics.

To qualify as a group and access EU funding, the Conservatives would have to be joined by MEPs from at least six other countries - and are understand to have concluded agreements from allies in the Czech Republic and Poland.