Tags: British | Conservatives | Revolting | Over

British Conservatives Revolting Over EU

Saturday, 14 February 2004 12:00 AM

Conservative Party leader Michael Howard decided this week to align his party with a pro-federalist European Parliament movement.

Now Conservatives of the Thatcherite mold are threatening to bolt the Conservative Party.

The London Telegraph reports in Saturday editions that the threatened revolt is the first since Howard became the party's leader. Tories within the party are upset that Howard has decided to reverse a decision made by predecessor Iain Duncan Smith to abandon the European People's Party and form a center-right faction in the Parliament.

Since Margaret Thatcher's departure as party leader in 1991, the Conservatives have been sharply divided by those favoring stronger E.U. integration and those seeking to preserve Britain's sovereignty.

On Sunday Howard was to celebrate his first 100 days as Conservative leader, but the threatened split has put a damper on that.

The EPP is the Euro Parliament's largest group. It includes Italy's Forza Italia, headed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Spanish Partido Nacional, the French Gaullists, and both the Dutch and German Christian Democrats, the paper says.

Some Conservative Party members believe Howard's decision is misguided.

"A break would have been better," said David Heathcoat-Amory, Conservative MP for Wells.

Heathcoat-Amory quit former Prime Minister John Major's government over the future of Europe. He said aligning with the EPP was counter to Conservative principles and it was not "honest" for Conservatives to act as if both parties had much in common.

The report, co-authored by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, said Heathcoat-Amory believes the Tories "had lost the chance to form a separate grouping with other centre-Right parties, particularly from the new member states that will join the EU on May 1."

Other MPs who are critical of the EPP said the Conservative Party was entering a formal relationship with a group committed to a new European constitution opposed in principle by Tories.

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Conservative Party leader Michael Howard decided this week to align his party with a pro-federalist European Parliament movement. Now Conservatives of the Thatcherite mold are threatening to bolt the Conservative Party. The London Telegraph reports in Saturday...
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Saturday, 14 February 2004 12:00 AM
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