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Stefan Löfven, who was forced to resign as Prime Minister after clashing with allies over housing policy last week, narrowly won a vote in Parliament on Wednesday which secured him a swift return as Sweden’s leader. It was clear beforehand that a single lawmaker, either by mistake or deliberate rebellion, had the power to scupper Mr Löfven’s comeback, but in the end, he prevailed by 176 votes to 173. Sweden’s Parliament has 349 seats.
Mr Löfven said: “The work to move Sweden forward begins again now.
“We must now continue our work to build a stronger, safer and more equal country.”
His reappointment ends weeks of political turmoil in Sweden and removes the immediate prospect of a snap election, giving the government vital breathing space to focus on its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Wednesday’s vote doesn’t remove all the clouds from Mr Löfven’s political horizon.
Like many European nations, from Finland to France and from Germany to Greece, Sweden has seen the emergence of an influential far-right anti-immigration and anti-EU political party, in this case the Swedish Democrats (SD).
The SD have gained a surge in support for their criticisms of establishment politicians, Brussels and the continent’s response to the migrant crisis of 2015.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Swedish MEP Peter Lundgren argued euroscepticism could be on the rise in his country, particularly given Sweden has lost a precious ally in Brussels: the UK.
He said: “It was a disappointment when the British members left the European Parliament.
“It was a huge loss for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group to say goodbye to the Tory members.
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“From the beginning, they were the driving force.
“I miss them, I miss the British members because they were always on our side.
“They would call a shambles a shambles, and were not afraid of taking a battle against the Commission.
“We very often joined forces.”
He added: “I missed them. We are trying of course and we hope that in the next elections, we’ll be a big group again.
“We have a clear ambition of reforming the EU – we want our sovereignty back.”
When asked whether he could see Sweden leave the bloc in the next few years, though, Mr Lundgren said: “I hope that we will end up leaving so that we can keep the power within the Swedish Parliament and not the European Parliament.
“Of course, it is very difficult especially when the EU starts getting the right to taxation…
“As you know, I campaigned alongside Nigel Farage for Sweden to leave and I was hoping we would get a clear mandate when we were heading for the next European elections.
“We wanted to use the UK’s withdrawal as a good example but that did not happen, as everything turned into a circus.”
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Mr Lofren added: “Finally, we are there.
“In a couple of years we will see the UK being successful and it means we can use it in our communication with our Swedish voters to leave as well.”
Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers made similar claims in the past.
Amid conflicts with the UK and the growing power axis between Germany and France, the MEP claimed it may well “pave the way” for a reaction against the EU in Sweden.
He added: “I think this will pave the way for a reaction and we have already seen it to a certain extent, that this change in public opinion on EU membership is now going in the opposite direction to most of the other member states.
“Yeah, I mean, we’re not talking about an earthquake.
“But it’s the trajectory that is interesting here and it’s going against the trend.
“And I think it’s because more and more Swedes realise that the design of the EU is not in the interest of Swedish taxes.
“So when the chicken comes home to roost, that’s when the real reaction will come.
“Maybe we’re talking about a few years ahead but it will come eventually.”
Throughout the UK’s membership of the EU, states such as Sweden relied on the UK for its support in the European Parliament.
As Mr Weimers added Sweden has not only lost a crucial ally in the bloc, but trade with the UK will also be impacted between the two states.
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