Saturday 26 September 2009

A constructive Britain in the EU?

A constructive Britain in the European Union would be a great asset, but this is not about to happen. Read the opinions on Conservative Home to get an inkling of Tory solidarity with the UK’s European partners.

Read the latest interview with Conservative foreign policy spokesman William Hague, who rejects European integration and the Lisbon Treaty, but wants Britain to stay on the inside of the European Union.


With a Conservative government, Britain’s engagement in Europe is about to turn from bad to worse.

The UK destroying the Lisbon Treaty while remaining in the European Union would be the worst outcome for the other EU states.

Hague’s disregard for Britain’s European partners is perverse: Causing maximal damage.

If the United Kingdom feels ill at ease in an evolving European Union, it should secede. It can arrange its trade links through the European Economic Area (like Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or bilaterally (as Switzerland). The only defensible referendum is on the basic question: In or Out?

Ralf Grahn


  1. I agree, Ralph, that it's possible to take a pessimistic line, especially in view of the Tory posters on the first site. However, the interview with Hague was more revealing. He - and Cameron - are in a bind. They cannot (and will not) promise a referendum whatever.

    His comment that the EU share of world trade will shrink over the long-term is likely to be true: but then, so will the US share. China is already close to overtaking the US, and other BRIC countries are catching up.

    I am, by nature an optimist. However, I have worked in government and with elected members at all levels in the UK. I have noted how often the reality of office soon puts pre-election promises/hopes into perspective. (And I include the Thatcher governments in that assessment).

  2. My bet is that the Tory government that is likely to come will fall out over Europe early on, and perhaps the UK will have another election not too long into Cameron's term.

  3. Alex,

    Given the existing unanimity rules and the ones remaining under the Lisbon Treaty (if it has entered into force), a negative and unpredictable member state is a grave problem for the rest of the European Union.

    If the the Conservative Party is split internally when it is in government, this would be a major problem for Britain as well.

  4. As an extremely pro-European Englishman, I consider that the UK should be invited to leave the EU, while making it clear that the country would be welcome to re-apply for membership after a decent interval if it was prepared to accept all aspects of the project (Schengen, the euro, no opt-ins). If the Conservatives win the next election, which looks very likely, the resultant bitter fighting over and with Europe will damage all the EU Member States and certainly the EU. Better to lance this boil now than wait until it bursts. Since the Member States would be unlikely ever to make such a move, I reckon that the place place to initiate it would be in the European Parliament.

  5. Anonymous,

    I feel sorry for you, pro-Europeans in Britain. In my view, you have reason on your side, and in a world with emerging big players the EU would need to become one in foreign affairs.

    Sadly, you lack the numbers needed in a democracy and the Conservative Party, UKIP and BNP compete fervour.

    The vehemence of their nationalistic postures does not only cover the leadership, but MPs and MEPs as well as grass roots, aided by decades of tabloid campaigning against everything political and European.

    My sad conclusion seems to be more or less the same as yours: Britain is not mature enough to play a constructive role in Europe, and under a new Conservative government its veto power is going to cause the EU harm.

    What I find perverse about Cameron and Hague is their insistence to remain in the European Union, without any loyalty to their European partners or even the idea of European integration.

    The decent thing to do, would be for them to (arrange a referendum and) decide on secession.

    I am pessimistic enough to believe that the Conservatives aren't going to leave the EU voluntarily, even if invited to do so.

    They know that they can hurt the European Union most by being on the inside.


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