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Ken Clarke and William Hague are not "at loggerheads"

EU and BRITAIN In today's Daily Mail Peter Oborne suggests that two of David Cameron's most senior colleagues are in "open warfare":

"Hague and Clarke are at loggerheads over another problem involving Europe  -  what to do about the Lisbon Treaty. This is the document which, if ratified by all EU member countries, will extend Brussels' powers.  The treaty's next major milestone comes when Ireland, which rejected it once, puts the treaty again to a referendum later this year. If Irish voters say 'yes', then the Lisbon Treaty  -  and the prospect of an all-powerful EU  -  would appear to have been saved. However, Cameron has said that even if the Irish give approval, he 'would not let matters rest there'. This comment was seen by pro-Europeans as a sign that he was prepared to do battle with the rest of the EU to try to unravel some of the institutional changes in the treaty. This position, though, was ridiculed last week by Clarke when he appeared on BBC1's Politics Show. He implied that the Tories would not try to dismantle the treaty if they gain power because it would be impossible to reverse the legislation if all 27 states had signed up to the treaty."

As much as I respect Peter Oborne I just don't believe this.  I wish it was otherwise but the Conservative leadership team would not have invited Ken Clarke to join the shadow cabinet if they had intended to be radical on Europe.  Clarke accepted the leadership's existing commitments to leave the EPP and hold a referendum on an unratified Lisbon Treaty but he didn't sign up to further Euroscepticism and you can be sure he would not sit in a shadow cabinet/ Cabinet if Cameron et al tried to negotiate significant changes in the UK's relationship with the rest of the EU.

Hague, exhausted by the landmark creation of the European Conservatives Group of MEPs (expected to be unveiled within the next seven days), has described Europe as a ticking bomb at the heart of the Conservative Party and thinks it best not to further alter policy towards EU for fear of an almighty explosion.  Ken Clarke is pretty content with that.

Tim Montgomerie


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