19/05/2014 12:12 BST | Updated 19/05/2014 12:59 BST

Are The Tories Trying To Steal Ukip's Far-Right Friends In The European Parliament?

Nick Clegg once referred to David Cameron's allies in the European Parliament as "nutters, anti-Semites.. and homophobes".

With the Conservative Party reported to be considering a raid on Ukip's far-right friends in the European Parliament in order to prevent its own grouping from collapsing, the deputy prime minister might want to take a look at the PM's latest list of Euro-pals.

Political parties in Strasbourg tend to form official groupings with other like-minded parties in order to increase their influence in the legislative assembly. In 2009, the Conservative Party left the centre-right European People's Party grouping, which includes Angela Merkel's MEPs, in order to form a new European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

The move was controversial at the time, given the views of some of the people the Tories decided to ally themselves with. Michal Kaminski, the Polish MEP who was chosen to chair the new group, was not the most liberal of men. His view on gay people for example, "what should I say? They are fags", was a tad at odds with the pre-election Cameron modernising message.

However the ECR now reportedly faces collapse as it may not see enough of its MEPs re-elected in Thursday's Europe-wide vote. In response, the Tories are said to be courting the Danish People's Party and the Finns Party, two hard-right, anti-immigration that currently sit with Ukip.

Martin Callanan, the Tory chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European parliament, has confirmed he has been in contact with Morten Messerschmidt, a Danish People's Party MEP: "We have a very good relationship with Mr Messerschmidt.. and his views on Europe are close to the ones held by the ECR."

Meanwhile, influential Tory MEP Daniel Hannan visited Helsinki to have talks with Finns Party leader Timo Soini, prompting Labour's Gareth Thomas, the shadow Europe minister, to remark that a Tory alliance with parties holding "dangerous, extreme-right views, is a very troubling development".

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