Major fails to prevent Euro-war escalation

THE FAULT lines in the Tory Party became even more visible over the last week, as Euro ‘phobes’ and ‘philes’ continued to slug it out. On Tuesday Douglas Hurd warned that failure to maintain a Cabinet “truce” over Europe would dash any hopes of re-election.

Major’s pandering to the Eurosceptic rightwing has had its effect on the left of the party, with Kenneth Clarke refusing to shut up despite threats and Europe’s trade commissioner, Leon Brittan joining the fray to add weight to the left backlash.

Hurd’s plea and Major’s failed attempts to ban discussion on Europe show just how weak the Tories are. In contrast there is not a squeak of discontent being expressed from Labour’s shadow cabinet as Blair ‘modernises’ the party. They have election victory in their sights and are willing to keep quiet rather than do anything to jeopardise it.

The Tories ‘position’ on Europe hardly inspires confidence among business leaders either. The (at best) confusing and (at worst) chauvinist sloganeering of the Tories is hardly a longterm strategy for economic growth that can rally the population. The Tories do not even have an agreed attitude to the single currency, which is due to commence in just two years time.

Anyone in business will know that Europe is becoming a united trading power from which Britain cannot afford to be isolated. National chauvinist rhetoric may placate the rightwing Tory bigots and save Major’s skin for the time being, but it is not a strategy for ‘making Britain great again’ that can be believed in.

Helen Ellis