Under the unfriendly eyes of two of Europe’s most notorious far-right politicians, Labour MEP Claude Moraes, who was born in Yemen, pulled off a coup on Monday by becoming the first non-white chairman elected to steer one of the major committees in Brussels, covering civil liberties, justice and home affairs. It is almost beyond parody that one of the committee members should be Udo Voight, the first creature of the German far-right to be elected an MEP.
Voight, the son of a former Wehrmacht officer, has praised Adolf Hitler as a “great German statesman”, denounced the current German republic as “illegitimate”, toyed with the idea of nominating Rudolf Hess, one-time deputy leader of the Nazi Party, for the Nobel peace prize, and has claimed that “no more than 340,000” Jews died in the Holocaust.
When the committee members gathered, Moraes was surprised to see that the leader of the French Front National, Marine le Pen, who is not a committee member but a substitute, had also taken time to attend. He wondered if she was there to prevent a non-white person from being elected to the chair. In fact, his election went through smoothly.
“I was slightly nervous,” he admitted. “It was quite a difficult moment. I said that as a committee we would be dealing with immigration, asylum and anti-discrimination… As a committee chairman, I have got to understand that these people from the far-right have been elected. If Voight asks to speak, he gets to speak.”
Short-Cummings irk Clegg
Dominic Cummings becomes a more sympathetic figure out of government. It would be difficult enough not to grow to like someone whom David Cameron publicly denounced as a “career psychopath.” Now Michael Gove’s former adviser has attracted a second accolade. The story is told in next week’s Radio Times that as Nick Clegg was being briefed ahead of one his LBC phone-ins, he was warned that he might be asked to respond to Cummings’s description of him as “a sphinx without a riddle”. The Deputy PM replied wearily: “Even I’m getting bored talking about this lunatic.” Psychopath, lunatic… it only remains for Ed Miliband to describe Cummings as “weird”.