Photo: President Donald Trump’s former aide Steve Bannon
President Trump’s former close aide Steve Bannon has predicted a right-wing “supergroup” will emerge within the European Parliament after next Spring’s EU wide elections.
In an interview, Bannon said he believes that such a radical political grouping could comprise as many as one-third of MEPs elected after next May’s European-wide poll.
“Next May is hugely important,” Bannon said in an interview with the US-based news website, the Daily Beast.
“This is the real first continent-wide face-off between populism and the party of Davos,” he said, adding, “This will be an enormously important moment for Europe.”
With less than a year to go before the elections to the European Parliament take place on 23-26 May 2019, a new Eurobarometer poll showed half of Europeans are interested in the poll.
But the pledge by Bannon, who strongly supports the UK’s Brexit from the EU, to become directly involved in the run up to the election, though, has been condemned – and rubbished – by one leading Europhile.
Denis MacShane, a Europe Minister under former British prime minister Tony Blair, told this website, “Europe’s right-wing nationalist populist parties have as many differences with each other as they with the left.
“Like Yanis Varoufakis who was dumped out of his country’s politics and now has set up a Europe-wide left political movement which is going nowhere Bannon is a Narcissistic failure who has been discarded by Trump like a used Kleenex.”
He added, “The European Parliament election in 2019 will certainly see an increase for populist anti-Brussels parties and big votes against ruling 20th century parties in the EPP, PES and ALDE.”
“But they won’t form a homogeneous block and this time next year Bannon will be forgotten,” said the former UK Labour MP.
Further comment came from Richard Corbett, a leading UK Socialist MEP, who told The Parliament Magazine, “Trying to create an international movement of parties whose only commonality is that they hate foreigners will be a challenge.”
The deputy, who heads the UK delegation of Labour MEPs, added, “But the threat posed to democratic Europe by well financed right-wing authoritarian movements should nonetheless not be underestimated.”
Bannon has launched a foundation in Europe called The Movement, expected to be based in Brussels and which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent, starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.
According to reports, he had already started raising funds amid speculation that former English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, recently released from jail in Britain, might be offered a leading role in its UK wing.
The Movement is, apparently, currently operating on a shoestring budget with, according to the Daily Beast, Bannon hiring “fewer than 10 full-time staff” in the runup to the 2019 elections. This includes “a polling expert, a communications person, an office manager and a researcher” although reports says this could rise to 25 people after the election if the initiative is deemed to be a success.
The developments come after a recent survey of national opinion polls highlighting that eurosceptic parties could expand their strength in the European parliament by more than 60 per cent at the elections. It predicted that numbers of eurosceptic MEPs could rise to 122 of the available seats.
A source at The Movement said it will serve as a “clearing house in Brussels, at the heart of the EU, for the populist, nationalist movement in Europe”, with the aim being to beef up the anti-EU presence in the European Parliament.
But, speaking recently, ALDE group leader in the parliament and point man for the assembly on Brexit, Guy Verhoftstadt said, “Steve Bannon’s far-right vision and attempt to import Donald Trump’s hateful politics to our continent will be rejected by decent Europeans. We know what the nightmare of nationalism did to our countries in the past.”
Recent months have seen a number of parties, including France’s National Front being investigated for alleged misuse of parliamentary funds. However, current polls suggest that such parties could increase their presence in the European Parliament even though Brexit will see UKIP leave and the Parliament shrink by 46 seats. It has also been claimed that Bannon has been trying to forge links with leading Brexiteers such as former UK foreign minister Boris Johnson.
One parliamentary insider said, “There are also other significant eurosceptic groups which might rally to Bannon’s cause, though many are very divided on other issues.”
In a recent interview, UKIP’s Nigel Farage said that eurosceptics could enjoy huge success in the May election and predicted that anti-EU MEPs could secure between 176 and 235 seats in the assembly.
“My view is that somewhere between a quarter and a third of seats in the European parliament are going to be Eurosceptic and Euro-critical,” he said.