Saturday, 2 May 2009

UKIP Query Tory Motives over the EU

At the Bruges Group meeting on Wednesday evening, UKIP MEP candidate Andrew Smith suggested to speakers Stuart Wheeler and Fraser Nelson why it was the Conservative Party is so afraid of the issue of the European Union. Mr Wheeler had described how evasive the Conservative Party was over the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty while Mr Nelson had described their fear of renewed internal conflict if the EU became an active campaign issue. Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine simply will not put up with any Euroscepticism from their party which continues to reel from their splits over Maastricht and other treaties.

Mr Smith suggested we should instead take at face value the assurances of every Conservative Leader since Heath that they remained committed to Ever Closer Union and would never lead Britain out of the EU. He reminded the large audience of David Cameron's "profound" support for the EU. Others pointed out that Kenneth Clarke had called calls for a refendum on the Lisbon Treaty "absurd" while recent research showed that over 80% of British people wanted precisely such a referendum and half the British people wanted to leave the EU altogether.

John Flack, a Norfolk property developer and the Conservative's "swing" MEP candidate in the Eastern Counties announced himself at the meeting and sought support at the European Parliamentary elections. However, it was Andrew Smith who also stood to ask for similar support so that he could become the additional UKIP MEP for the Eastern Couties, who received extensive spontaneous applause from the audience.

John Flack had said at hustings on Tuesday that he believed Britain should remain a member of the EU and try to adapt it from within to make it "the kind of EU we want". Andrew Smith told the meeting how Francis Pym, who had been his MP when he joined the Conservative Party 45 years ago, had made that same claim then. Mr Smith concluded that must have been either a deception or the most catastrophic failure of policy by the Conservative Party as nothing in the EU had since then been changed to suit our preferences and needs - indeed quite the opposite.