Leaving the European Peoples Party

Today I wish to praise Mark Francois. The Shadow Europe Minister has worked hard to create an anti federalist grouping in the European Parliament. He has helped David Cameron implement his vision of Conservative MEPs providing an opposition to “ever closer union” and the remorseless march of power to Brussels.

He reminded me yesterday that before the last European elections Nigel Farage asserted that David Cameron would not take his MEPs out of the EPP grouping, and placed a bet on it. It’s time for Mr Farage to admit he was wrong and settle the account.

Poeple need to understand that the Conservative party is a Eurosceptic party that wants trade and friendship but not centralised government from the continent. It is of couse predictable that now the party has set out very clearly its opposition to federalism in the European parliament, to match its long standing opposition to it at Westminster (votes against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon), our federalist opponents here at home attack the politicians and parties we are allied with in the European Parliament.

The federalists always tell us we should lead in Europe. That is what we wish to do – to lead Europe forwards to a world of self governing nations unencumbered by too much centralised Euro bureaucracy. They are always telling us we should be more engaged with continental politics, and have more friends on the continent. Now we do, they tell us they are the wrong friends! They are all elected MEPs, so by implication the federalists are now criticising the peoples and nations who elected them.

Meanwhile the UK government continues to accept all the bureaucracy and France and Germany serve up, unable to resist bad laws or to defend the Uk interest.

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23 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Well at least the Conservatives are trying something different, but surely why do MEP’s have to form these formal type groups in the first place. Is the EU Parliament not a place of free discussion, where all members have an equal voice ?

    If the arrangement you outline works, then it is certainly an improvement over the past, but I am yet to be convinced that anything other than a complete renegotiation will be of no real use in stopping the tide of EU regulation and laws.

    I wait and see with interest.

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      blocks make it harder for Individuals to come togther on issues, for example, it stops nationalist groups from having much of a say.
      Recently they changed the rules pecisely to prevent the Nationalist groups from forming a block, they raised the number of Mep’s needed from 20 to 25.
      The EU is a dictatotship and will keep pulling the ladder up at the slightest threat.
      If the EU allows the conservatives new grouping it is because it benefits the EU.
      the EU is not going to allow groups to form that threaten it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Interesting question. I suppose originally it may have been because the majority of MEPs have a collectivist mentality, and rather than allowing individuals to form into groups as they pleased it was decided that there must be regulations. I find in the 1985 edition of Whitaker’s Almanack that MEPs were already sitting in multi-national political groups – Socialists, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Democrats, etc – but there’s no mention of any rules. However by 1995 “The Parliament’s organisation is deliberately biased in favour of multi-national political groupings, with recognition of a political grouping … being easier for multi-national groups”. Then the rule ran: one country – at least 26 members; two countries – at least 21 members; three countries – at least 16 members; four or more countries – at least 13 members. Those rules have gradually been tightened, deliberately and with increasingly malicious intent, so that now 25 assorted members from seven countries can form an officially recognised group, but 50 members from three countries can’t form a group unless they can find at least one MEP from each of at least four other countries to join them. Which is what the Tory MEPs have had to do – 26 Britons, 15 Poles and 9 Czechs, plus one each from Belgium, Hungary, Latvia and the Netherlands.

  2. Colin D.
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I am sure Mr Farage will be only too happy to have lost the bet and pay up.
    Taking the Conservatives out of the EPP sends a faint warning signal to the European Commission but it will be lost in the noise or disregarded. The signal that matters, is for Cameron to say that he will hold a referendum of the Lisbon Treaty COME WHAT MAY. That will make the Commission sit up and take notice and also encourage our friends in Ireland prior to their next vote.
    Why can’t Cameron see that he has a one-off chance to stop the EU steamroller NOW – in 11 months time it may be too late. Such a cast iron commitment is also the only way that sceptics like myself will be convinced that the leopard will not ‘change its spots’ – just like previous PMs – as soon as Cameron is elected.

    • Liz
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I quite agree with this – the EU is working flat out to get the Lisbon Treaty through before the general election. What is so difficult about the Conservative Party supporting majority opinion in this country and not just those of a self selected political elite? What is the point of such an election anyway if all real power has been drained away to unelected bureaucrats controlled by France and Germany and Westminster is reduced to the level of a Parish Council?

  3. Josh
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Gordon Brown contradicts himself everytime he accuses Cameron of ”isolating himself,” by not being in the same group as Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi. Brown isn’t in those groups. He is in the socialist group, which includes extreme feminists, communists from the old Poland etc.

  4. Donna W
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Yet as things stand, the UK will be served up to the EU on a plate because Ireland is being forced to hold a second Referendum on Lisbon and it looks like the bullying, threatening and bribary may result this time in a YES vote.

    Without a commitment from the Tories that the Lisbon Treaty will be unratified unless the electorate agree to it in the Referendum they were promised, Cameron’s new grouping will achieve nothing. The Lisbon Treaty is self-amending and is creating the Superstate the federalists want. Unless it is stopped, no amount of Euroscepticism will achieve anything.

    Of course, if the Tories had given us a Referendum on Maastrict, this wouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately, the Tories are just as much to blame for seceding our sovereignty as Labour.

  5. Posted June 26, 2009 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I think it would be better to leave that undemocratic rotten organisation completely

  6. DominicJ
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    To be fair to NF, Cameron did promise they would be out of the EPP “within weeks”, three and a half years ago.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    JR: “the Conservative party is a Eurosceptic party that wants trade and friendship but not centralised government”

    Is that not what UKIP also say? Were they invited to join your anti-federalist grouping? If not why not?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      It wouldn’t help with the formation of a qualifying group, as the group already has more than enough total members (minimum 25), and the Tory MEPs and the UKIP MEPs are not from different countries (minimum seven).

    • Kevin Lohse
      Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      I read somewhere that Mr Farage has actually joined the EPP. Can anyone confirm this?

  8. Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The Tories are taking a terrible pounding over this. Confident that it plays to their ‘Same Old Tories’ and ‘nasty party’ memes, Labour strategists have seized on the issue as part of their wider attempt to deconstruct Cameron’s modernising agenda and re-contaminate the Tory brand.

    Worried that the attack will resonate because it plays into all the old stereotypes, the Tories are keen to close down the argument. But need they be? I am not so sure. Guardian readers are no doubt appalled. In their minds, this confirms all their worst prejudices. But this is exactly what is wrong with the strategy.

    Like Brown’s ‘Tory cuts!’ jibe and the ‘Mr. 10%’ riff, this is small tent stuff. Shoring up the Euro-fanatic vote with scare stories about Ukrainian SS members, holocaust deniers and homophobes is not political outreach. While this stuff plays well in The Guardian and The Independent, outside the echo chamber of the liberal press I am not so sure. Though we have no way of gauging the impact on the opinion polls, just as the country is in the mood for spending reductions, it is in the mood for a more critical approach to European policy, and so the Tories should not be afraid of the argument.

    The key is to make this move part of a wider reform argument. The Tories can do this in the knowledge that they are on the right side of that argument. The whole trend in today’s politics is towards increased accountability and transparency. Arguments around localism, democratic renewal and reform resonate deeply with a public desirous of change and so Cameron must hold his nerve.

    Despite the force of the attack, there are signs that the argument is moving their way. Just last week Nick Clegg moderated his tone on Europe greatly, sounding much less slavish than usual, and more thoughtful Liberal Democrats are aware that they need to develop a much more critical pro-Europeanism than they have yet shown us. So it would be a great irony and a very great betrayal indeed if, at the very moment the stifling consensus on Europe begins to fracture, the Tories failed to put themselves at the centre of the argument for fear of upsetting the pro-European press.

    This is the right move at the right time and the Tories should say so with conviction and without apology.

  9. Waramess
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    There is no benefit to be gained from being a eurosceptic party because you will simply be dragged screaming and shouting to the alter of a federalist Europe rather than going willingly. Certainly you will never be able to reverse the process in which there are so many vested interests.

    When elected, Cameron should do the smart thng; now that he has donned the clothes of the sceptic he should hold a referendum on continued membership of the EU and abide by the decision of the people.

    This would be hugely popular and have the effect of settling the argument.

    For too long politicians have deluded themselves into believing they and only they understand the arguments; let’s now have a show of humility, not to say democracy for a change

  10. Acorn
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Bonjour mes amis. Having spent the last week as a participant in what turned out to be, a French hotel version of the European parliament; I discovered that it is all our, (the UK that is) fault.

    “What is” you say. Well, according to the French; German and Italian contingent, the US and UK are the cause of the global financial crisis; absolutement (sic). Merkel; Sarkozy and Berlesconi are untouched, Bush and Brown are the real bad guys.

    I was expecting the bit about joining the Euro currency, but this lot said if we joined, the Euro would devalue, because we have massive government debt. Would you believe an Italian was telling me this!

    It appears that a lot of these EU Directives have yet to reach street level in France, if they ever do. There is a message here for UK politicians.

    Red traffic lights are still “advisory only” for Cote d’Azur taxi drivers (outrageously expensive). You can still go anywhere on a local bus for one Euro; and a double decker train for five, (25% off if you show your bus pass). Hotel and Catering business revenues are down between 20 – 40 percent and Russians are the only people buying villas. The electronic surveillance installers are doing fine, thanks to those Russians though.

    I was left with the impression that these guys know how to handle being European, regardless of what comes out of Brussels or Strasbourg. Unfortunately we haven’t.

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Obviously the euro-federalists will do everything in their power to destroy this group.

    That’s the euro-federalist majority which has been installed in the EU Parliament, and the tiny band of dedicated euro-federalist activists in the UK, and the small and diminishing euro-federalist minority which still exerts a wholly disproportionate influence within the Tory party.

    Not long before Cameron made his pledge that Tory MEPs would leave the EPP doing that would have been a lot easier, as the rules stated in the 2005 edition of Whitaker’s Almanack were:

    “A political grouping must comprise members from more than one member state; a grouping with members from two countries 23 members for recognition, a grouping with members from three countries needs 18 members, and a grouping with members from four or more countries needs only 14 members.”

    Only six years before, after the 1999 elections, it would still have been possible for the Tory MEPs to form their own group, as at that time a minimum of 29 MEPs from one country could form a recognised group – plus, as above, 23 from two countries, 18 from three countries, or 14 from four or more countries.

    But by the 2006 edition of Whitaker’s Almanack, the rule had become a minimum of 19 members from at least one fifth of the member states – which would have meant five countries at that time.

    The qualifying rules for group formation have been steadily tightened, in my view above all to keep the Tory MEPs locked in the EPP – and the Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff wrote as much, last year:

    http://www.andrewduffmep.org.uk/articles/000146/minority_report.html

    “At the moment, a political group needs at least 20 MEPs from six of the EU’s 27 member states. From next July, a group will need 25 MEPs from seven countries.

    It may be wondered why parliament sees fit to make this change, especially when the size of the House is set to shrink …”

    “Advocates of the change – drawn almost exclusively from the two largest groups of the EPP and the Socialists (PES) – have been hard put to justify why it is necessary or desirable.”

    “The sub-plot of this story is the commitment of British Tory leader David Cameron to divorce his MEPs in the next parliament from their association with the federalist EPP. In order to form a new group, the Conservatives will now need allies from six other states.”

    Now that the Tory MEP have broken free, every effort will be made to recapture them.

    So I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that the EU Parliament was debating further changes to the rules, so that 25 MEPs from seven countries would no longer be enough, and instead it would have to be maybe 40 MEPs, but more importantly from maybe twelve countries.

    However there is a risk for them, if they try to move too far and too fast in that direction – there may be MEPs from across the EU who have so far taken the path of least resistance and gone along with the euro-federalists, but who could decide that if this is how a European federation would be run they would want no part of it.

  12. John Wrake
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    Claims that the Conservative Party is a Eurosceptic Party will not do.

    The electorate are increasingly sceptical about political claims which do not square with the facts. We get quite enough of those from the government, without the opposition joining in.

    The facts are that the opposition was incapable of preventing the government signing up to the Lisbon Treaty with a disparity in votes of approx. 20%.

    How does this new grouping of 55 MEPs intend to change the minds of the so-called European Parliament, with a disparity in votes of over 90%. In any case, the European Parliament has no power to reject the Treaty.

    According to Mr. Cameron, Conservative attitude to the Treaty rests on the result of an Irish referendum, so let us be done with spin.

    If you are on the wrong bus, choosing who you sit with and waving a ticket for another route is a waste of effort.

    Ring the bell and get off!

  13. Pete Chown
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “Meanwhile the UK government continues to accept all the bureaucracy and France and Germany serve up, unable to resist bad laws or to defend the Uk interest.”

    Politically this is an interesting issue I think. It will be a vote-loser for the Tories if the debate is about whether the Polish ‘Law and Justice’ party is anti-gay. On the other hand, it could be a big vote loser for Labour if they are seen to be defending the EU. The EU is very unpopular in the country, but Labour tends to be broadly in favour, so I think it would be an easy trap for them to walk into.

  14. Publius
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    “unencumbered by too much centralised Euro bureaucracy”

    Thing is, who gets to decide what “too much” constitutes?

  15. jean baker
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Perhaps those ‘hailing Brussels’ dictate and failing to protect UK interests will be duly recompensed by a ‘job’ in the EU – following in the Kinnock’s footsteps.

    Labour is serving just one master – not the electorate, but the EU; Blair awaits, what appears to be, his ‘promised’ Presidency.

    I believe those fooled into agreeing to Labour’s MP’s pension proposals will live to regret it …… they govern FOR Brussels and do so by stealth. Much has been done via ‘leaks’ to undermine the role and reputation of our dedicated MP’s, including you, John – a victim of ‘misinformation’ published by the media.

  16. Paul
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I really would like to believe that the Conservative Party is EU Sceptic but I’m afraid the evidence is stacked against. Not least no promise of a definate referendum, Conservative members of Better Off Out still barred from the front bench, Daniel Hannan not allowed to stand as an MP because he is a BOO member and worst of all one Mr Kenneth Clarke on the front bench making up Pro EU policy on TV.

  17. Adrian Peirson
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    all cameron has to do is say he will tear up the Treaties, the EU is Illegal, Treason is Illeagl, health lied when he said’ no loss of essential sovereignty’
    He was even working for a foreign power when he made these lies.
    Do we have laws in this country or not, the answer is we do not,

    we are a country under foreign occupation and our people marginalised through colonisation, abortion and sterilisation.

    http://worldreports.org/news/6_e.u._treaties_procured_by_payola_corruption

  18. Adrian Peirson
    Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Foreign OR domestic Generals, what are you waiting for, the whites of their eyes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NtSd0EOF3w

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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