When the Tories left the European People’s Party in 2009, one could script what has since happened, writes Dirk Hazell.
Appeasement never pays: UKIP has flourished. A UKIP militant tendency rebellion inside the Tories has since become a takeover with over 100 of their candidates for the 2015 General Election already committed to Brexit. Alongside this, the prestige and influence of Tory MEPs has collapsed.
All predictable: with worse to come.
One pressing issue is what Conservative MEPs who manage to get re-elected will do with their struggling Group in Brussels, the ECR. In 2009, then Tory Euro-leader Timothy Kirkhope MEP made great claims for the new ECR Group’s future, explaining why any deal with parties such as the hard right Lega Nord and the anti-immigrant Danish People’s party was inconceivable. Roll the clock forward to 2014, and his successor Martin Callanan MEP is exposed in discussion with the same Danish People’s party while the AECR transnational parties’ secretary general Daniel Hannan MEP courts the radical populist (True) Finns party.
Apart from the fact that no mainstream voters would ever dream of supporting such parties in Britain, practical issues present themselves.
For example, the Tory lead candidate in London is on the record as supporting withdrawal from the EU, but he is also Muslim. Denigration of Islam by leaders within the Danish People’s party and the (True) Finns is well documented: so exactly with whom will the Tories ally after Thursday’s election?
Given this uncertainty, and because the Tories have been in discussion with parties they would never contemplate courting if this was Westminster and not Brussels, we have written to the Prime Minister to demand that before people vote he provides clarification.
As for the 4 Freedoms Party UK EPP, we believe that Europe’s leading city, London, should again have a strong European Parliament voice in Europe’s leading party, the EPP. That is exactly what we offer!
We believe the EPP’s support for human rights and caring and tolerant values are in tune with those of Londoners. In contrast, the anti-women, anti-gay, anti-green bent of the Tories’ ECR allies jars with London’s traditional openness.
We understand why so many billionaires want to live in London: it is a great city. However, it is a harshness sapping the soul of society when billionaires are richer than ever while Londoners are having to rely on soup kitchens. For us, every person deserves the chance of fulfilment. The retired and vulnerable deserve dignity. We believe in people. We believe the economy should serve people, not in making people servants of the economy.
The 4 Freedoms Party UK EPP wants London to be represented by the EPP in the European Parliament while an EPP Presidency of the European Commission drives forward ambitious reform of the EU during the next five years.
We support the removal of internal barriers within Europe and open market agreements elsewhere when they respect our European Deal of a strong economy combined with strong social and environmental policies.
As the eurozone and banking union develop, we want to preserve the jobs of future generations of Londoners who work in financial and support services, a subject on which the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel was helpful when she addressed the British Parliament in February.
We want digital union to replace digital divide. One in four of all new jobs in London are provided by this sector and talented young people in London – as elsewhere in Europe – are well placed to gain from a digital European economy at least as good as America’s.
We want better training for all Londoners and will support further enhancement of Erasmus+. Young people deserve the best start in life.
We seek lighter regulation for the smaller firms where most Londoners work.
Londoners can in every meaningful sense win this European Election by voting 4 Freedoms Party UK EPP!
Dirk Hazell is Leader of the 4 Freedoms Party UK EPP