The UK Tories’ European policy: The road to oblivion

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The tone of UK Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague’s 21 July speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London “takes us back to Winston Churchill’s image of Britain at the centre of three concentric circles: transatlantic, Commonwealth and European – a world that no longer exists,” writes Stanley Crossick, founder of the European Policy Centre, in a July post on Blogactiv.

“Shadow Foreign Minister William Hague’s speech […] seems not to have been influenced by the débacle marking the first stage of the new Conservative policy towards Europe,” he says.

The Tories’ new group in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), is a rag-bag of mainly Central European MEPs [26 Brits, 15 Poles, nine Czechs and one Belgian, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian and Latvian respectively] and has already to lost its Parliamentary Vice-Presidency (due to the defection of Edward McMillan Scott),” he explains.

The shadow minister’s speech reveals two contradictions, Crossick says:

  • First, “the relationship with the US will only remain exceptionally strong while the UK is closely embedded in the EU” and;
  • Second, “the UK can only really wield influence if its position is leveraged within the EU”.

According to Crossick, “the speaker put himself in context when he said: ‘200 hundred years ago, in his most famous and shortest speech, my hero William Pitt The Younger said, ‘England has saved herself by her exertions and will I trust save Europe by her example'”.

“That tells you everything,” he concludes. 

Subscribe to our newsletters