German far-right MEP Marcus Pretzell expelled from ECR group
AfD's Marcus Pretzell expelled from ECR group following controversial comments about 'shooting' migrants.
Controversial German MEP Marcus Pretzell has been expelled from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in Parliament.
Pretzell is a member of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party and was in the headlines recently for alleged comments about "shooting" migrants.
But the decision on Tuesday to throw him out of the ECR group was based on AfD's apparent refusal to disassociate itself from the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO).
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According to the ECR, this was "unacceptable and incompatible with membership of the ECR."
Pretzell, who is the AFD regional Chair in North Rhine-Westphalia, allegedly said he wouldn't rule out the use of firearms as a last resort to prevent illegal immigration.
His comments echo those made by fellow AfD MEP Beatrix von Storch, who was asked to leave the ECR last month after reportedly saying that the police should be allowed to use weapons against women and children who enter Germany illegally.
On Tuesday, UK Conservative delegation leader Ashley Fox confirmed Prezell's expulsion, saying, "The FPO is an extremist party in the same group as Marine Le Pen's Front National. It is an anti-Nato party which sympathises with Putin's Russia. It has also expressed views endorsing racism.
"For the ECR group to stand by its principles of individual freedom, respect and equitable treatment, we cannot tolerate any links with a group such as the FPO.
"That is why we acted decisively last month in demanding that the two AfD members resign, and why Conservative MEPs backed the motion, calling for Pretzell's expulsion, which was approved by the ECR bureau."
The Freedom Party has enjoyed recent electoral success in Austria, based partly on a campaign attacking migrants and immigrants. Recent opinion polls put the party's support at 33 per cent.
Despite being condemned for its anti-immigrant rhetoric, it is seen as Western Europe's most successful far right party.
von Storch resigned from the ECR last week and has joined Nigel Farage and other Ukip MEPs in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group at the European Parliament.
Pretzell, a 42-year-old lawyer, was not immediately available for comment. He has reportedly said he may also join the EFDD.
He was initially spokesman for the regional administration of Detmold and the Urban Community Bielefeld.
Elected to Parliament in 2014, he is a member of the committees on the internal market and consumer protection and environment, public health and food safety, and a substitute of the constitutional affairs committee.
The remarks arguing that it was okay to shoot illegal migrants at German borders were first made by AfD leader Frauke Petry.
"We need comprehensive controls to prevent so many unregistered asylum seekers from crossing the border," Petry told a German newspaper.
The remarks sparked a storm in Germany with Bundestag chairman to the Christian Social Union (CSU), Max Straubinger, saying the AfD had "shown its true colours."