By Tim Montgomerie
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It wasn't so long ago that Tory MEPs seemed most enthusiastic about European integration and in that enthusiasm they were much more out-of-step with grassroots opinion than the party leadership in Westminster. Not so true any longer. Although some of the long-standing divisions in our MEPs group remain it contains many mainstream Eurosceptic voices. Most interestingly its leader is a refreshing voice of sanity as his monthly parliamentary reports for ConHome confirm (here's his most recent).
Let me, therefore, echo yesterday's piece on the Mail website by the Freedom Association's Simon Richards in praise of Martin Callanan:
"Martin Callanan, the Leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group of MEPs, is reported by the Press Association as saying of Greece that 'economic reform will, in the long term, be essential. But in the short-term, there is only one solution: a devaluation coupled with a default is the only way to salvage something from the wreckage of the Greek economy and to save a generation or more of young Greeks from a miserable economic inheritance'. It's time for other politicians to be equally honest about the solution to the shambles they have created. The British Government should not pay another penny to prop up the Euro."
The Express also reports Martin's words:
“EU summits are becoming a political ritual, divorced from the real world – nobody believes that the latest package will save Greece,” he said. All the energy being devoted to drafting and ratifying a new treaty would be better employed implementing a plan for the orderly withdrawal of Greece from the euro, including carefully prepared support for the banks most affected. Everything else is just a very expensive exercise in kicking the can down the road.”
And while we are on this subject Peter Oborne's piece in today's Telegraph really is a must-read. The article's title - The callous cruelty of the EU is destroying Greece, a once-proud country - says it all.
Of course, we were supposed to be feeling "isolated". That was according to the newspapers with a federalist leaning - and especially if you listened to the BBC.
We were meant to be marginalised and misled too, but above all - "isolated". That was the buzzword on every corporation newsreader's lips and every euro-mad leader-writer's spell-check.
Yet isolated was about the last thing Tory MEPs were feeling as we gathered in Strasbourg for last week's plenary session. On the Monday after "Veto Friday", we felt united, hopeful, energised: all of those things; but isolated? Not that you would notice.
"Isolated" implies vulnerability, fear, even regret. On the contrary, Conservatives were feeling confident, invigorated and - not to put too fine a point on it - right.
Inevitably, there was a backlash against us in the parliament chamber. On Tuesday, the EPP's leader Joseph Daul provocatively said the Prime Minister's veto showed we in Britain lacked "solidarity" with the rest of the EU. He said we should therefore forfeit our hard-fought rebate (or as much of it as Labour hadn't already handed back). If anyone still thinks we should never have left the EPP, please take heed.
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