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Britain's Farage saves EU Parliament group

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(BRUSSELS) - British eurosceptic leader Nigel Farage said he had saved his European parliament group from collapse on Monday after recruiting a Polish legislator from a far-right party.

Farage's Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group was officially dissolved by parliament last Thursday after a Latvian legislator pulled out, leaving it with members from fewer than the the seven countries required.

But Farage announced that Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz, of Poland's royalist and libertarian Congress New Right party, had since agreed to join up, taking it back over the threshold.

"To paraphrase Mark Twain, 'rumours of our death have been greatly exaggerated,'" said Farage.

"The Eurosceptics are now back with a bang, indeed we have never been away."

Iwaszkiewicz said he joined the group because of "two important values -- opposition to EU bureaucracy and support for free markets."

UKIP members make up the largest contingent of the EFDD's 48 MEPs, followed by Italian comedian Beppe Grillo's populist Five Star movement.

UKIP had a strong performance in May's European parliament elections fuelled by growing scepticism in Britain about the EU, and earlier this month the party won its first seat in the British parliament.

The Congress of the New Right meanwhile was rejected as a possible partner in May by France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who said the political views of the Polish party's leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke were "contrary to our values."

Korwin-Mikke caused controversy during campaigning for the EU elections by claiming Adolf Hitler "was not aware of the extermination of the Jews".

In July, Korwin-Mikke outraged the European Parliament when he used a racist term to compare the Europe's unemployed youth to people in the US South.


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