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When will people realise that you cannot reform the EU.

The very height of naivety. It's like trying to turn the Mafia into the Band of Hope.

The key is to put a Euro-sceptic in charge of the Conservative MEPs.

The key is a new European organisation with a founding treaty which explicitly rejects the concept of "ever closer union". No hope of Cameron achieving that while he says that he'd stay in the present organisation come what may.

The key is to promise a referendum on Europe that should concentrate a few minds wonderfully and shoot the UKIP fox.

What a waste of time. The only solution is to leave the EU. It's inefficient, incompetent and corrupt.

Please, no more bull about reforming the EU. We have nothing to lose from leaving the EU and everything to gain, so please will the party get real. A referendum on continuted membership please.

Even if that was the best policy, which it is not, what is the point when Merkel could throw anything into the mix come june. Its a non policy that would still be embarrassing to walk away from, now that is rare.

Why cant he just come clean, offer the right policy, which could be a million miles away from leaving and still create a landslide?

I still wait to see an illuminating and refreshing argument in favour of the current European morasse. I Cameron can create a policy position which captures the imagination on this one, he will have indeed done well. I fear most people (at street level) really couldn't give two monkeys about Brussels.

He should clearly state that it should be a free trade area and nothing more. If that isn't acceptable then a renegotiation of our membership so that no European regulations apply to us except those concerning trade with the EU. As the EU believes trade is a good thing Cameron perhaps ought to suggest that they abolish the common external tariff.

"I fear most people (at street level) really couldn't give two monkeys about Brussels."
Maybe, but they do about post-office closures etc. A good start would be explaining WHY the EU is such an issue...

I wonder if we'll hear the 'S' word (subsidiarity) tomorrow?

The EPP promise was broken. This latest ambition is not possible. Be wary of anything this man says. Very wary.

Why do it now? merkel is back in june with an unknown proposal?

If parliamentary elections gets lower turnouts, with a bigger tax take, for less responsibility ...... that a long term plan..... How can any sane individual not recognise the importance of EU? Just because some Chav on the street doesnt get it changes nothing.

What credibility has Cameron got with party members if he wants us to believe a policy of "reform" and "new relationship" is anything other than a misleading statement that does not reflect the wishes of teh electorate, ask him why he wants to reform it? They take our money not our advice and by the time it might have 'reformed' itself the Russians will be exerting full influence, nice one.

If you are happy winning the next election of a lower turnout and no mandate then stick with Cameron. I simply fail to see the point.

What he will not get away with tomorrow will be any wishful waffle. If we get a lecture which is long on utopian rhetoric and short on specifics of what presently doesn't do this country any good, and what actions he will take to change things, the roof will fall in on this site and he will have added salt to the wound of the EPP fiasco.

Curly is doubtless right in saying that the majority at street level couldn't give a stuff. I'd love a referendum but fear it might fall short of a minimum turnout. Which makes it all the more important that a Conservative Party leader has the backbone and leadership to make decisions on behalf of his nation.

Let's hear if he's up to it.

No doubt visitors from Mars would be bemused by the EU, but they'd be even more bemused by this policy on the EU ... either you want your country to be subsumed into a federal United States of Europe, or you don't, and if the latter you don't remain part of an international organisation which was set up with the intention of gradually subsuming its member states into a European federation.

That was clear from the very start with the Schuman Declaration:


which clearly stated that the European Coal and Steel Community was to be
"a first step in the federation of Europe", and that "this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation".

Like dictators everywhere the Commissars at the EU will only accept the reality of a punch in the face or a kick in the maritals.
Whilst DC's intention is very laudable, he needs to recognise that he is dealing with a bunch of fanatics, who are working to a dogmatic script, and will not allow any-one to thwart the grand plan. They will nod and agree that DC's comments are correct and that the EU must move in this new dirction, they will then actively conspire to frustate and defeat any measure that moves the goalposts a micron from the pre-set course.
If DC is to achieve anything with the EU, he must use force and spell out now his future acts on becoming elected.
These should be:-
1. To vote against all EU business.
2. To withhold all VAT payments to the EU.
3. To commence action to remove the UK from the EU.
4. To immediately revoking all EU led legisaltion that has been passed by Parliament, including ECHR.
5. To frustate the activities of all EU bodies, agencies, etc,.

Only by taking a hard line will you gain the ears of the EU Commissars, and only by withholding monies will you be given the time of day. If there's one thing close to the hearts of all the apparatchiks, its money.

It appears the The Times' stable mate has got a clearer idea of what tomorrow's speech will be all about.
What is funny is that this meeting is clashing with the General Affairs Council of all the EU Foreign Ministers meeting, which of course means that few journos will bother to turn up, and it is taking place outside Euroville, at the Arsenal, again meaning that few people will turn up. A few journalists have received specific invitations, so much like the last time he came over when 5 journalists were allowed 15 minutes in a coffee shop the access is being strictly monitored.
There is a promise that "Tomorrow’s meeting in Brussels will be attended by other leaders, academics, business people and citizens". I look forward to seeing them all, I am sure it will be an impressive line up.

1. To vote against all EU business. - Sounds outrageous.
2. To withhold all VAT payments to the EU. - Results in a budget crisis, farmers will be hit hard, and several regional projects.
3. To commence action to remove the UK from the EU. - Ridiculous
4. To immediately revoking all EU led legisaltion that has been passed by Parliament, including ECHR. - Requires extensive work on our legislation, and leaves plenty of holes.
5. To frustate the activities of all EU bodies, agencies, etc,. - Results in political breakdown which brings about uncertainty.

To be honest, withdrawing from the EU is no answer due to the outrageous complexities, economic and political problems surrounding it happening.

It will take time to disentangle ourselves from the EU, but it's the only answer - and I'm pretty sure that Cameron already realises that, as he's not stupid.

"To be honest, withdrawing from the EU is no answer due to the outrageous complexities, economic and political problems surrounding it happening"

.... faint heart never won a thing worth having. It would be outrageous if the complexity of withdrawing resulted in us staying in against our better judgement. The medicine will save us, not kill us.

If Mr Cooper or anyone else for that matter believes for one minute that David Cameron or anyone else in the Conservative Party who is serious about winning elections will propose withdrawing from the EU they are living in a fools paradise.
People will just not support it. The only way forward is to do what Cameron is proposing and that is reform. If the party proposed anything else all we would do is start looking like Little Englanders which we did in the last two elections and end up with a Labour government that given the chance will sign us up for both the Euro and the Constitution.

Nothing new here....Move on

I like the sound of what the MER is talking about. But talking and doing are two different things.

Withdrawl should not be the first option. If we can reform the EU from within, it'd be far better. There are issues on which we need to co-operate: climate change, terrorism, etc, where very close co-operation (though not pooling of sovereignty) is necessary.

The EU should be about international issues - that means no European Parliament, no European Court of Justice, et cetera. Internal affairs are internal affairs unless they effect international ones (ie. climate change) or are unacceptable (ie. a fascist government).

This is a huge change in direction, an absolute brake on anything that is a national issue and completely contrary to 'ever closer union'. Whoever tries to pursue this needs iron in their blood, and I'm afraid I don't believe Cameron has that.

In that instance, if reform is not forthcoming, withdrawl is the only option left. We should not and cannot remain part of an organisation with which we fundamentally disagree on direction. And we must be prepared to go through with it.

Europe can be a useful tool for tackling global issues, and we should encourage it to take on that role. But if it doesn't, we can be quite comfortable in EFTA, EEA, and NAFTA.

If Mr Cooper or anyone else for that matter believes for one minute that David Cameron or anyone else in the Conservative Party who is serious about winning elections will propose withdrawing from the EU they are living in a fools paradise.
People will just not support it.

Ah, Jack Stone's turned up at last. I was getting worried. What's happened to old Change To Win?

The point is, Jacques mon vieux copain, that the great British public both (a) hate Europe; but (b) don't care enough about it at the moment to make it a voting priority, so they decide their vote on other matters. There isn't a great untapped pool of federalist sentiment waiting to exploited, and it wouldn't vote Tory if there were. I'm not sure what the selling point would be in a pro-Brussels Cameron Party.

But Jack, don't you want the Euro and the Constitution? Go on, admit it, you do.

I think the problem with inviting the EU to deal with any global issues is that the "external competence" it requires to do that in a particular case cannot exceed its relevant "internal competence". So if we allow the EU to make an agreement with third party states on our behalf, we then have to accept whatever rules the EU may devise in that policy area - ostensibly to ensure that all member states are respecting the agreement, but more likely in fact just to extend EU power.

This is the problem when you do politics-by-gimmick, isn't it? When you try to move into important, difficult areas...you produce policies that make no sense.

1. The EU cannot be reformed from the inside. Whatever else the EU may or may not become, Britain should be no part of it.

2. "It would be one which devotes its energies to matters such as global warming, world poverty and creating a dynamic economy"=more EU influence, more EU regulation, more EU bureaucracy, more EU spending, more EU power. It is therefore directly contradictory to stated goal #1.

3. This type of talk is a net-loser in the electoral market. Why doesn't he realize?

Let me quote Christopher Hitchens on the current Cameron Conservatives:

"But I can't easily adjust to the fact that for the first time in memory, there is nothing intimidating about the British Conservative Party. For all I know, its current leader might regard that as a compliment."

The big problem with our membership of the EU is that, as I heard anyway, the Yanks want us in (as their 5th columnist).

Heath took us in originally because of his own, well concealed, anti-Americanism. Craftily, he implied that it was only de Gaulle's opposition to our membership under his own anti-English agenda that was driving us continually to apply to join 'Europe'.

We wanted to pull out almost from the 'get go' but George Bush snr, to name one president, WANTED us to stay in.

I suspect that promising to pull out of the EU, given the British public's extreme hostility to membership, would be a near-certain guarantee to propel any vote-grabbing politician into office. The fact that they always renege on such a promise if made in opposition (Blair being the last one to promise this) must mean that there IS a reason for continued membership which is being kept from us.

We know that the original reason Heath and Ripon dished out to us, that it is in our economic interests to stay in Europe, has been well and truly discredited. Blair, to give him some credit, owned up and said it is in our POLITICAL interests to stay in, although as they do nothing in Brussels but p*ss all over us at every opportunity, that is obviously not true, either. So why are we still in it?

(P.S. as a 'vote-grabbing local politician' myself, I would like to think that I didn't deliberately, or even accidentally, lie to get any of my votes)

Offer people a referendum on withdrawal from the EU and weigh the votes.

It is not one of the highest issues on the average voters priority list - those will always be health education and taxes but I have yet to meet anyone with a good word for the EU. However, offering a referendum on continued membership would undoubtedly energise a lot of current non voters and 90% of the Tory base. It would transform the political landscape.

Congratulations to Jack Stone - your very first Blog entry with no spelling mistakes.
Regarding the substance of your entry, you are quite wrong-headed in saying that proposing withdrawal from the EU would have no electoral benefit: in fact, just such a proposal would have the Tory in an utterly commanding lead.
Of course, Mr Cameron would not like to do this because it would upset Ken Clarke, Heseltine, Gummer, Hurd - and, of course, the BBC.
But don't let this depress you Jack - a good Blog entry. Try working on the commas now.

".... faint heart never won a thing worth having. It would be outrageous if the complexity of withdrawing resulted in us staying in against our better judgement. The medicine will save us, not kill us."

Kill us? This isn't a war, we should be working with Europe to make a freer market as conservatives, not to put up trade barriers to serve our selfish purposes of protecting industries that don't have an economical basis to be in this country.

CAP reform can ONLY happen if we work with the EU.

Though the political union is a it shambolic, we're not part of the monetary union

"more EU spending, more EU power" - The treaty of Rome pretty much states that EU spending is only required and meant for projects which achieve an economic gain greater than that of an individual country.

The problem with europe is not the legislation, but the way it is being enforced and implemented. The economic rationing behind it is pretty solid, just selfish countries like Germany, France and Italy continually breaking their own rules...

John Cole. If you think promising withdrawal would put ther party in a commanding lead I am afraid your living on another planet.
Europe will simply not be an issue that decides peoples vote outside of the loney tunes in UKIP of course. Also if you promise to withdraw it would simply split the party cause the same sort of arguments that have kept the party out of power for so long and would result in the party going back down to thirty per cent and the core vote once again.
People want us to talk to them about the NHS, the environment, crime and transport. They don`t want us to start yet again talking to ourselves about Europe.
Thanks for the compliment Mr Cole. Afraid I can`t return it. Yours was crap!

Good to see your spelling was only up to scratch for one post Jack!
I agree with the Editor.I doubt that the EU can be reformed at all but Cameron and the Conservative party to try and to be seen to be trying. They will have no chance at all unless they have powerful sanctions at their disposal and a willingness to use them as a lst resort.Provoking a budget crisis will do the trick nicely.
I think DC situation will be different to that of John Major. John Major had to deal with a very significant Europhile tendency in the parliamentary party and in those days I used to come across Europhile activists frequently,they were probably a majority in the constituency I lived in.Now however I doubt more than 20% of our parliamentary could be classified in any sense as Europhile and amongst the activists that I meet they are rarer than Hens teeth, even on this blog there are only a handful. Cameron could take a very tough stance with the EU and could be certain of the support of an overwhelming number of people in his party, Major could not.That I think will be the difference.

This is welcome. As much as I believe we should leave the EU, we have to be pragmatic until the electorate have been fully convinced that it's in our best interest. This will have to be via salami tactics. Firstly, we need a Eurosceptic majority in the EU party who won't go native as soon as they hit Brussels. Secondly, we need campiagning organisations like the taxpayers alliance to dismiss the lies coming out of the EU such as all it's supposedly done for the Envoirnment, when it's actually helped wreck it with CAP and CFP. It will be a long hard slog, but we will get there.

You don't understand the Better Off Out argument, do you, Jaz?

Leaving the political union but joining EFTA doesn't mean selfishness, protection or no free market. It means you get the trade, but without an EU "Foreign Minister" and the gibberish of Social Chapters and ECHR. If we played the protection game, not only would we bugger up our trade with Europe, we'd fall foul of GATT and face global trading problems.

CAP reform can only happen if we stay in the EU? WHAT? If we leave, CAP no longer applies to us! The rest of the EU can reform it at their leisure, or NOT, if the Frogs have their way.

"The problem with europe is not the legislation" - sorry chum, that's the ONLY problem, when you think about it. Legislation is passed into LAW. I don't much care for European countries who help pass EU law and then ignore it, but I'd rather not have to worry about it. Name me five EU laws that have been rubber-stamped by Westminster that are good for Britain and could not, for some reason, have been created and passed by our own parliament.

Agree with the long hard slog, combined with some "sanctions", ready to be used if necessary,


Hurd was right - Europe was coming our way: Britain got an opt-out of the Social Chapter and of Schengen. Europe didn't all launch into the Euro at once and we had been out of the ERM since 1992. 'Two-speed' Europe was a reality. It's just that we elected a Labour government in 1997 that went into the Social Chapter and declared it's intention to join the Euro. The first step of CAP reform into the single farm payment has happened. We would have Council of Ministers meetings in public if only the British Labour government hadn't vetoed it.

It’s an interesting headline to this piece, in that the failure of the European institutions to offer any effective assistance with environmental issues which are cross-border by definition present a compelling argument for the need for reform.

I don’t think that pandering to those on the right wing advocating withdrawal is an advisable political strategy – at the very least they should agree that we gain in political stature by putting a bold and positive vision for what Europe now could and should be. Positive engagement in Europe and putting forward constructive ideas to European allies is just one more example of how the Party is changing. I think we can agree that Conservative ideas are, after all, desperately needed there.

Cameron has not chosen an easy path here, and a great deal of political courage will be required to make it work and to make the arguments we put outweigh the inevitable internal vested interests. But pointing out to the EU juggernaut that it might just be on the wrong road is the right thing to do, both for Britain and the wider world. Whether our European colleagues choose to listen and understand is I am afraid up to them, but I hope we can make the case.

I don't believe that voters at large are as concerned about the EU as many Conservative members seem to have been in the past 15 years or so. The EU has to have a role in international issues such as free trade, the environment and world poverty. As others are saying, the EU should look outwards rather than inwards.

As others are saying, the EU should look outwards rather than inwards.

Yes it is easy to say what the EU should be but that by definition is not what it is. After twenty years of British politicians of both parties vowing to be at the heart of Europe and to change it from within it is about time that we accepted that ours is a minority interest. The others esp France and Germany like it the way it is and that's how it will stay.

The issue for Britain then is no longer like Haig's army whether one more push will win through but whether Britain would be better off out or fully committed inside a United States of Europe.

It is possible to contemplate an EU that the right might like to be part of. A restoration of the Holy Roman Empire with the Emperor rotating, like the Sultans of Malaysia, through the reigning houses of Europe. A bastion of Christianity against the infidel and the heretic. Protectionist in economics and pure in culture. A Europe purged of the 20th century.

But it is still a particularly Christian Democrat, continental right wingery and Britain is still better off out.

There's no possible route from the present EU, from its inception committed to
a relentless process of "ever closer union", to the kind of EU that Cameron says he wants, committed to "a Europe of nation states". The two are irreconcilably opposed. It would be necessary to establish a new organisation from scratch, with a new and very different founding treaty, and he'd never get all of the present EU member states to agree to that even if he made it clear that the alternative was British withdrawal - and since he's ruled that out he's scuppered from the start. But I'm sure that he already knows this, as he's not stupid.

Its all so predictable, just as I was warming to voting for the conservatives, the worst type of fanatical xenophobic zealots of the little englander toryboys and girls of the 80's do the usual knee-jerk response to anything with the word europe in.

As a floating voter (I really am, and no troll am I) I care little about the EU but do care about the NHS, the economy, the environment, etc. - banging on about Europe just turns me off.

What little I do know about it is - I don't want to be out of Europe because it feels good to belong, but I dont want the Euro. And, as a serious & honest question, the people who want just a free trade area, why are things like Health and Safety and other types of regulation not about trade - as I understand it, its all about level playing fields and I don't want to trade with any countries if it means sweat shop conditions and little care for me as an employee.

Floating voter is absolutely right. Free trade requires common regulation to prevent competition from forcing standards below acceptable levels. It comes hand-in-hand with regulation and it's inconsistent to moan about one but not the other.

"What little I do know about it is ..."

Perhaps you should find out more; it's not that difficult, and every responsible citizen should take an interest in how his country is governed whether he sees that country as "the United Kingdom", or "Europe". If you can't be bothered to do that, don't come out with stupid ritual abuse against those who can be bothered.

I would second your last post Denis. If 'floating voter' (are you really not a troll?)you can think of half a dozen specific reasons that we benefit from being a member of the EU in its current form I'd be delighted to hear them. 'It feels right to belong' really doesn't count!

Perhaps floating voter can tell us whether it bothers him or her that most of the laws of this country are now made behind closed doors under a procedure which bears little resemblance to demoractic accountability. That bothers me a lot more than the NHS and the environment, especially as we have almost no control over the latter.

Valedictoryan, NAFTA is a free trade area: it does not involve creating a supranational body to which the US, Canadian and Mexican legislatures are subordinate. So I'm afraid your argument is a bit of a non sequitur.

"banging on about Europe just turns me off."

Well, I suppose that's something we'll just have to learn to live with.

"Free trade requires common regulation to prevent competition from forcing standards below acceptable levels."

In fact it doesn't. We have free trade with a great many countries whose levels of regulation differ from our own.

I'm not one of those "little englander toryboys and girls of the 80's".

I'll have you know that I'm a Great Britainer of the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s. But I am a tory, and a boy.

Floater, you say you are not a troll, but why would you read a thread on this topic, and post your nonsense, if you "care little about the EU"?

I am enjoying the debate my earlier post is generating - as a serious post its interesting to hear opinions, some more enlightening than others, particularly the NAFTA point.

However, to answer Og about 'if you are not troll, why would I read a thread on this topic...', the answer is simply I'm interested in the conservative party and how it's changing (some parts of it anyway), am thinking of voting for it (though not yet persuaded) so thought I'd contribute to a topic that I personally find quite baffling in terms of the hostility and passion it generates in some quarters. If this thread and this site is for only true believers, I'm sorry to have intruded.

And in terms of Malcolm's point about 'not feeling right doesn't count' I'm sorry if I don't come up to scratch in really thinking about who I should vote for in a scientific way, but I think going by how I feel about policies and leaders is probably how the majority of voters - floating ones at least - decide - sorry if you find that offensive.

The reaction to floating voter Robert Hughes is typical and a splendid demonstration of a big reason we lost three elections. A floating voter puts it like floating voters see it and gets insulted.

The bottom line is we are in, may be we shouldn't be but we are and you start from there. So you make your pitch on how things should be, maybe you get changes but, if not, you are in a much stronger position if you want to be "awkward". And, as France and Italy regularly demonstrate, if you have your country behind you you can make your marks. But you have to work at it - this is long term stuff.

I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the recent EPP leadership election, it demonstrates we are not on our own.

It would be a mistake to assume postings on Europe don't attract UKIP posters rather than be reflective of the generally euro-sceptic rather than euro-phobic membership of the Conservative Party. It is also unfortunately the case that many Labour/LD/UKIP astro-turfers or trolls do also claim to have "been considering whether to vote" so while you can be honestly stating that ios the case it dsoes arouse suspicion.
In my view we are in Europe, we could leave but at great cost to our relations with generally friendly neighbours, so I tend to be Thatcherite and say stay in but fight to win.

I think we should probably leave the EU if our efforts at reform are not immediatly successful. I haven't a clue why but it just feels right somehow. Anyway I don't really think about these things much because as a Conservative I have realised that banging on about Europe does turn of the electorate and we wouldn't want to do that would we? That feels so much better!

I'm delighted you are interested in the Conservative Party, Robert.

It should not surprise you that this party contains some who are quasi-LibDem on Europe, some who are, well, Bill Cash. Those that leave the party to become Ukippers or Euro-federalists are welcome to their fate, but the debate on Europe is going to remain spirited within the party for a good while yet. Do not think that we make this the number one priority at the expense of health and education and the economy; we take all the major policy areas seriously.

Of the main parties, only the Tories have this ongoing debate about sovereignty. Given that the great majority of new law on the UK statute book emanates from Brussels, I think we are right to have that debate. The argument has much more to do with passion than hostility.

Isn't the problem with Europe that we were not part of the initial club and so did not influence the founding principles?

I thought the idea was to claw back powers from the EU and the ECHR, I'll not hold my breath waiting for Cast Irony Dave to do anything meaningful over the EU other than assist in bailing out the Euro.

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