Nigel Farage's EU political bloc has done a deal with a far-right Polish MEP. Photo: Getty
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Ukip partners with a Polish MEP from a Holocaust-denying party to rescue its EU funding

Ukip, whose EU political group recently collapsed, does a deal with a far-right Polish politician to keep its funding.

Last week, Ukip's political group in the European Parliament collapsed because its membership fell below the required number of seven member countries.

This would have led to a loss of status in the institution, and also a huge loss of official funding, as outlined by our guest blogger, Catherine Bearder MEP.

But the party has managed to rescue its funding by doing a deal with the Polish MEP, Robert Iwaszkiewicz. Iwaszkiewicz is a member of the Congress of the New Right, a far-right party in Poland. According to the Guardian, its leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, has permitted this partnership to take place.

Korwin-Mikke's outspoken and racist views meant that even Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National in France, ruled out forming an alliance with his party following her success in this year's European elections, calling his political views "contrary to our values".

Korwin-Mikke is notorious for racist slurs and for questioning the events of the Holocaust, saying Adolf Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated”.

The Labour party's Michael Dugher has condemned Nigel Farage for his decision to do a deal with a representative of such a party. He commented:

As we approach Remembrance in the UK, we rightly honour all those people in Britain who stood up to Hitler and fought against the Nazis and fascism in Europe. Yet here are Ukip forming an alliance with a far-right party in Europe that denies the fact that millions were murdered in the Holocaust, in order to keep receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds from the European Parliament. This shows once again that Ukip do not share the values of decent working people in Britain.

Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour's leader in Europe, said:

Nigel Farage's desperate attempt to resurrect his group has seen him sink to an all time low. The views expressed by his new allies are sickening even by UKIP standards.

For all the facade of the rosy cheeked, jovial pinstripe, these developments highlight once again the dark heart of UKIP and the cynicism of Nigel Farage.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.