Results for elections to the EU’s ‘parliament’ are due out tonight, and in the UK the focus will be on the size of the vote for the UK Independence Party, a party that advocates withdrawal from the EU. For a one issue party – and one with a good percentage of oddballs in its ranks – UKIP did surprisingly well in the local elections, winning two seats in the London Assembly and doing pretty well in the other local elections it contested, both indications that it might be celebrating tonight.
The worry for the Tories? That support for the UKIP will siphon off some of the votes that they could otherwise expect. Well, that’s as may be, but a shift by the Conservatives in the direction of outright opposition to the EU would be a mistake. It would allow Labour to portray them as extreme and unfit for government, and the voters would almost certainly agree.
The answer is for Michael Howard to continue to stress his eurosceptic policies: opposition to the proposed EU ‘constitution’, UK adoption of the Euro, and further regulatory overreach by Brussels. And then to make clear that if those policies cause a crisis in relations with the EU, well, that’s just too bad. Promising to try and renegotiate the treaties would, however, be a step too far.
This report from The Observer has more. Note the comment from one Lucy Sykes of the pro-Brussels ‘Britain in Europe’ pressure group:
’We cannot take it as read that people in this country understand or are passionate about Europe…”
I’ll say, Lucy.