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By Jonathan Isaby
Saturday a.m. update:
I have now obtained a copy of the resignation letter Michał Kamiński sent to all MEPs in the ECR group on Thursday night:
News emerged from Brussels overnight that Polish MEP Michał Kamiński is to step down as leader of the ECR group in which the British Conservatives sit.
I wrote here in November how the Polish Law and Justice Party was about to split, and that is exactly what has happened. More liberal-minded Law and Justice members have now formed a breakaway party, Poland Comes First, including 17 members of the lower house of the Polish Parliament, one member of the Senate and four MEPs.
Among those four MEPs is Kamiński, who has been leader of the ECR since its creation in 2009.
However, I understand that it became clear over the last few weeks that it would be practically difficult for Kamiński to remain leader of the entire group in the wake of him leaving his 11 erstwhile colleagues in Law and Justice in what have not been the most amicable of circumstances.
Nonetheless, he and his colleagues in Poland Comes First remain fully-flegded members of the ECR – indeed, there are innumerable precedents of more than one party from a single country sitting within the same group in Brussels.
The Guardian was this morning trying to build up Kamiński's resignation into far more of a story than it is, even carrying fanciful speculation about the potential collapse of the ECR group.
My sources in Brussels suggest that whilst the splinter within the Polish delegation is a distraction, it really is business as usual for the group.
Meanwhile, I am hearing that the leaders of each national delegation within the ECR have indicated support for Jan Zahradil of the Czech Civic Democrats taking on the leadership for the next eleven months, before the full slate of posts is re-elected at the end of the year (halfway through the five-year term). Another name again being linked to the job is that of Yorkshire MEP Timothy Kirkhope.