ECR group moves to expel extreme right AfD MEPs
Parliament's third largest grouping looks to exclude two right-wing German MEPs over controversial comments on refugees.
German right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party has been asked to leave the European Parliament's ECR group following controversial comments suggesting that guns should be used to stop refugees illegally crossing the border into Germany.
The Populist party's two MEPs, Markus Pretzell and Beatrix von Storch, have until 31 March to voluntarily leave. If they do not comply, on 12 April the group will vote on whether or not to expel them.
The two deputies reacted angrily in a Facebook post published Tuesday night, referring to the incident as, "a wholly undignified spectacle". They accused UK Prime Minister David Cameron - who was instrumental in creating Parliament's ECR group - of plotting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an effort to sway the vote in the upcoming referendum on the UK's EU membership.
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There were numerous reactions on Twitter praising the ECR's decision to distance itself from the AfD.
Von Storch insisted she felt confident her ECR group colleagues would support their remaining in the group, but parliamentary sources have refuted her claims.
There is speculation that should AfD find itself without a home, the far-right ENF grouping could invite the two MEPs to join their ranks.
The departure of two MEPs would not affect the ECR group standing in Parliament; it would remain the assembly's third largest political grouping.