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UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party

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Martin Sonneborn outside the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA
16:57 CEST+02:00
Germany’s leading satirist, who represents a joke party in the EU Parliament, has said he was approached by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), desperate to form a fresh alliance hours after their anti-EU parliamentary group collapsed.

Comedian Martin Sonneborn, who was elected to the EU Parliament in May’s elections standing on a satirical platform which included the rebuilding of the Berlin Wall, told The Local on Thursday afternoon that UKIP had asked if he would join their alliance.

The UKIP-dominated group, named Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), fell apart after Iveta Grigule, a Latvian MEP, quit.

The EFDD will lose millions of euros a year in funding and speaking time in the parliament if it cannot find another MEP.

EU parliamentary groups need 25 MEPs from at least seven different countries to form an alliance.  As a German, Sonneborn, who is leader and one of the founders of satirical party Die Partei, would ensure the EFDD included representatives from enough countries. 

Quizzed on the seriousness of his claim, Sonneborn insisted he was not joking.

He said he had just been approached by the EFDD before The Local met him for an interview at 2pm on Thursday. Grigule had announced she was leaving the group earlier that day.

“Farage’s question was serious,” he said. “Several people from his group called my office manager."

Switching back to comedian-mode, he added: “I wrote back and said, I’d do it if they rename the fraction Sonneborn’s EFDD. He didn’t get back to me.”

It’s a shame because Sonneborn - who courted controversy in 2011 by covering his face in black make-up for a billboard spoofing US President Barack Obama - and UKIP leader Nigel Farage share the same dream - Britain’s exit from the EU.

“It doesn’t belong to the continent, just take a look at the map,” Sonneborn said. "I also like to stand in front of pubs drinking beer, so there's another thing that unites us,” he added, referring to Farage's enthusiasm for being photographed with a beer in hand.

A spokesman for the EFDD refused to deny or confirm the Sonneborn approach to The Local.

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“We are not saying who we have approached and who we have not approached,” he said. “I certainly have not heard Sonneborn’s name mentioned.”

The spokesman added that they had approached several people and some lawmakers had approached them. "We're not making any rash promises but we hoping for Monday or next week [to reform the EFDD]."

By Tom Bristow and David Crossland: @DavidCrossland3

SEE ALSO: Punks and pirates - Germany's oddest parties

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