Last month (15 July) Cameron chose British peer Jonathan Hill as candidate to become Britain’s next European Commissioner, and now hopes to win a prize portfolio for the UK as EU leaders carve up Europe’s top jobs during Saturday’s working dinner in Brussels. “Socialist President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz is wrong to label Jonathan Hill as anti-European, but Cameron is not over the hill yet in Britain’s quest for a significant European Commission role. Next month’s European Parliament hearings are a rigorous process for all concerned”, noted Hazell.
This afternoon, EU Heads of State and Government and opposition leaders of the European People's Party (EPP), along with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, will also gather for an EPP Summit. “Unfortunately, Cameron’s foolish decision to break links with the mainstream centre-right EPP means that, yet again, the UK’s voice will not be heard at this crucial pre-Council meeting. In contrast, Michael Howard - Cameron’s immediate predecessor as Tory leader - made sure that Britain was present during EPP negotiations”, explained Hazell.
Ever since William Hague first hosted the 1998 EPP Summit in Cardiff all Conservative leaders - bar Cameron - regularly took part so as to ensure UK interests were represented in the EPP. “As a past Tory party leader, William Hague - and his then-adviser George Osborne - will remember joining mainstream centre-right leaders at regular EPP Summits. Hague and Osborne must realise how serious a mistake Cameron made in ordering Tory MEPs to leave the EPP, surrendering valuable opportunities to shape European policy from within and setting the stage for deeper Tory schism”, stated Hazell.
“Instead, in 2005, Cameron placed leadership ambitions ahead of the national interest and sold out to Tory Euro-rebels. Heeding siren calls from former MEPs like Theresa Villiers and Robert Goodwill, Cameron pledged to order Conservative MEPs out of the mainstream centre-right EPP Group in return for votes from the UKIP militant tendency on the Tory backbenches. - British influence in the EU was further undermined before the summer recess, when Tory Euro-MPs recently defied Cameron’s alleged orders and went into alliance with anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties”.
As London region chairman for the Conservatives, Hazell witnessed first-hand the growing power of the UKIP militant tendency within Tory parliamentary ranks: “Cameron’s decision to sever relations with the Conservative’s natural centre-right European allies in the EPP significantly reduced the UK’s ability to shape European policies. Cameron needs to take control and face down UKIP-sympathisers like Daniel Hannan MEP who are determined to secure Brexit. Instead of taking Britain to the brink of Brexit, Cameron should be leading not leaving the EU”.
Ahead of this crucial EU Summit (Thurs - 28 Aug), in a strongly-worded comment piece for The Korea Herald, London School of Economics chairman and former World Trade Organisation boss Peter Sutherland warns: “Far from enhancing British influence, threats of withdrawal have undermined the Cameron government’s credibility and influence within the EU”. - The defection to UKIP by senior anti-EU Conservative MP Douglas Carswell further illustrates Cameron’s inability to heal the Conservative’s Euro-split for which his opportunism has exacerbated.
“As a refreshing alternative, the pro-European 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) gives centre ground, centre-right pro-European people in the UK the chance to be back at the heart of Europe, inside the mainstream EPP family. We will begin to repair the damage Cameron created. We believe in bringing people together, not driving them apart”, concluded Hazell.