FORMER Labour MEP Michael Hindley addressed a meeting of the Cumbria and North Lancashire branch of Forward in Europe.

He warned the meeting at the South Lakes Foyer in Kendal that economic crisis and political bitterness throughout Europe threatened a rise in the number of anti-European MEPs.

The strongest merit of the European Union, he claimed, is progress achieved through careful building of consensus amongst the member states.

An increase in hostile MEPs would make the work much more nationalistic, he said, leading them unable to agree any changes in policy. He claimed debates would be less effective, leading to greater voter disillusion with the new MEPs.

Mr Hindley deplored widespread ignorance of the EU from grass-roots voters all the way up to Westminster. “Only the House of Lords” he said “has any effective scrutiny of what is happening in the European Parliament.”.

A lively debate followed with numerous contributions. It was followed by a buffet.