Saturday, 15 May 2010

It's easy to forget the pro-Euro Tories

One area which is often pointed too by (even well-wishing) Coaliton doom-sayers is the contrasting attitudes of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to the issue of Europe. The contrast between the Liberal Democrats' broad Europhilia and the image of an overwhelmingly Eurosceptic Conservative party (including the aptly titled BOOs - Better Off Outs) could not be more striking. Yet when it comes to Europe the Coalition is not split so neatly along Blue-Gold lines as it might initially appear.

After the Conservative party finished tearing at itself over the European issue with the defeat of the Europhiles, there was no mass exodus from the party afterwards. The only example I can find is the Pro-Euro Conservative Party, a not-very-large splinter group that attempted to be a Conservative SDP-equivalent and whose ex-leader beat Nigel Farage into third place in Buckingham.

Today, Kenneth Clarke is the obvious surviving example of a Europhile Conservative yet he is often seen as a completely isolated aberration and it is forgotten that he is President of the Conservative Europe Group, a fully fledged Europhile organisation within the party.

If the Coalition lasts, the support of their new Liberal Democratic colleagues and the sidelining of the paleo-Conservative right of the party may in some way reshape the internal dialogue of the Conservative party, and allow its Europhiles to find their feet once more.

Update: Completely by coincidence, New Right has a piece on how the new Conservative Europe Minister is pro-European.

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