Monday, 30 June 2014

Not standing up Britain in Europe is unacceptable

Last week anonymous foreign diplomats described as 'natural allies' of the UK, have briefed the British press that Cameron was "scaring everyone off", and that his inability to control the frothing backbenches of his own party was making the UK a "dangerous partner". He is making it harder, not easier to reform Europe, and that is because he has political not national interests at heart, and it is transparent to everyone.

Witht eh rise of the right and UKIP, who is standing up for Britain following the European Parliamentary elections?

Labour is committed to representing the UK in Europe but it is also clear Britain's power base in Europe is being eroded by poor representation, by right wing MEPs who take the cash and benefits but whose interest is minimal at best. People who's sole contribution when they do speak is to moan from the sidelines and decry anything positive. MEPs who aren't standing up for you or me or Britain.

Britain's voice is now a weaker voice in Europe.

The Tories have left the mainstream EU Conservative Grouping, the European People's Party and joined the new European Conservatives and Reformists Group, which has dragged them from Euro-scepticism to Euro-extremism. A new group which includes parties from the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands and Latvia. A group which whose only German member party is the minority Party, Alternatives for Germany. The Tories' victory in the 2009 EU elections has proved catastrophic for Britain's national interests.

There is very simple issue which is at play when it comes to Cameron's policy on Europe – he is not governing in the interests of the country, he is running scared of the hard right wingers which make up a large slice of the Conservative Party and Britain has lost out over the last 5 years.

The Polish Foreign Minister has been secretly recorded saying that David Cameron has resorted to "stupid propaganda" merely to appease Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers. This may seem like petty political fighting but it is the reality of international relations – by offending our European partners, Cameron is making it more difficult for anything to change in Europe. He is not building a coalition of support necessary to get the best for the UK.

Indeed, David Cameron is spending much political capital in his attempt to prevent Jean Claude Junker from becoming president of the European Union. However the reason that it is such a battle is because by withdrawing from the European People's Party, the remaining members naturally don't want him to have a say over who takes the top job.

The EPP is the biggest party in the European Parliament, not David Cameron's group. If he hadn't left that grouping he would have a say, but because he is intent on side-lining the UK in Europe, he doesn't.

Britain's lack of power and influence is endemic.

It's symptomatic of the way Cameron has driven a wedge between the UK and EU which serves no useful purpose whatsoever. For instance, the UK has 12.5% of the population of the EU, yet we only supply 4.6% of the Commission's staff there compared to France which supplies 9.7%. If Cameron sincerely cared about British influence in Europe he would try and do something to reverse this – but he doesn't so he won't.

The rise of UKIP has only further isolated Britain. A proud nation with a proud history being turned into the 'European Joker'. A country not taken seriously – just look at the attendance record of UKIPs, they barely turn up. Analysis by VoteWatch Europe analysed their records, which showed that they only turned for 61% of votes – the worst of all 76 parties in Europe.

When they do bother to show up, they sit in a group in the EU which contains the Swedish Democrats (a party which was founded by neo-Nazis) and former members of the French National Front. Farage may appear to be a buffoon with a pint in his hand, but judged on the company he chooses to keep in Brussels, UKIP are clearly not working for the UK's national interest.

Everyone wants reform of Europe, everyone wants it to work better and to be less wasteful – Cameron is arguing with a straw man every time he makes out otherwise. But the volume of Cameron's straw man argument is beginning to raise anxious eyebrows amongst our European allies.

And all of this does matter – it matters because jobs depend on the EU, the living stands of people in Haslingden and Hyndburn depend on the EU, and David Cameron is putting us in a worse negotiating position, in pursuit of a policy to appease the right wing of the Tory party.