Beppe Grillo to join Nigel Farage in EU parliament

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Beppe Grillo (L) and Nigel Farage (R). Photos: AFP (L) and Wikipedia (R)
14:42 CEST+02:00
Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) party will join UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in the EU parliament following an online referendum.

On Thursday M5S members voted overwhelmingly to join an alliance with Ukip leader Nigel Farage through an online poll on Beppe Grillo’s blog, Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

In the online referendum, which was open for one day, members were given three options: to join the Ukip-led Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) or not to join any group at all.

In total 78 percent of the almost 30,000 M5S members who voted opted for an alliance with Farage and just ten percent voted to join the ECR group, which also counts the UK’s Conservative Party among its members.

Farage, who is currently facing questions over his failure to declare more than £200,000 (€250,000) of donations to Ukip, has declared himself to be “very satisfied” with the result.

News of the poll comes two weeks after the pair had lunch in Brussels to discuss a possible alliance following the outcome of the European elections, which saw Ukip take the majority of the vote in Britain and the Five Star Movement come second in Italy. 

Farage later said in a statement that if the partnership works out, then “we could have fun causing a lot of trouble in Europe.”

“If this works out it would be magnificent to see a swelling in the ranks of the Peoples’ Army,” he added.

But Grillo, who told Farage “we are rebels with a cause, and we shall whistle as we march”, was lambasted over the meeting by politicians within his ranks.

“It’s a xenophobic party, ours isn’t,” MP Giuseppe Brescia was quoted on the website Giornalettisimo as saying.

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But Grillo, a former comedian, told The Daily Telegraph he had much in common with Farage when it comes to immigration.

"He is not the way he is described, just as I am not the fascist and Nazi the Italian papers describe me as," he was quoted as saying.

“He wants to control flows of immigration in Europe like us. It is not true he is a racist.”

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