Euro Realist

British Tory MEP condemns party leader over EPP-ED opt out

The Parliament Magazine
25 March 2009

British Tory leader David Cameron has been condemned as “ridiculous” for pulling his party out of the EPP-ED group.

The blistering attack, from one of his own MEPs, comes in the wake of Cameron’s decision to cut loose from parliament’s biggest political group after June’s European elections.

Caroline Jackson is so incensed by the move she says she is considering quitting the Tory party of which she has been a member since 1963.

“Pulling out of the EPP was ridiculous, is a serious mistake and I am minded to leave the party,” she said.

Jackson, who is retiring in June’s European elections, has been an MEP since 1984, making her one of the longest-serving deputies.

She is a member of the environment committee, which she chaired from 1999-04.

The 63-year-old said Cameron had “totally misunderstood” the Tories’ role in the EPP-ED group.

“What he does not seem to grasp is that we actually had a good deal. We could express ourselves freely and vote as we wished while at the same time being able to take advantage of the benefits that go with belonging to parliament’s biggest political group.”

These include, she said, priority over committee chairs, speaking time and, most crucially, funding.

“It was a ridiculous decision for another reason and that is that it will be very difficult for the Tories to form another group.

“The fact is that they will be left with the odds and sods of Eastern European political parties.”

Jackson said that apart from the ODS party in the Czech Republic and the League of Polish Families, the Tories had little hope of attracting anything resembling “major” parties to its fold.

“There will be some nationalists from Hungary and Latvia and nothing else.

“The risk the Tories are running is that these parties could quite easily cut loose mid-term in the next parliament and leave the Conservatives high and dry.”

She said party colleague Christopher Beazley was “absolutely right” in his condemnation of Cameron’s decision to opt-out of the EPP.

“It is a serious mistake and will leave the UK even more semi-detached from the rest of Europe. The danger is that it will leave both the Tories and Britain isolated in Europe and the decision is simply not in the interests of either our party or the country.

“To be honest, I really cannot see the Tories putting together an alternative grouping. I just do not think they will bring it off.

“Rather than being bitter I am very sad over this. The move shows that not only do the Tories not like Europe but that they do not understand Europe either.”

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