Advancing a Free Society

The Tories can’t muzzle election talk of Europe

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

'We should be committed to a stronger European voice in the world," he says. "It is the common will to act together that is decisive." But unfortunately "European unity is lacking on so many issues". Who is this speaking? Jacques Delors? Herman Van Rompuy? No, it is William Hague, the famously Eurosceptic shadow foreign secretary, sitting in his modern corner office with its bow-window view of Parliament Square and delivering a carefully calibrated message of reassurance to the Guardian and the world.

Why? For reasons of strategic realism and electoral guile. The realism is explicit. The Tories were against the Lisbon treaty but "we have to work with what's there". That includes the EU's new foreign service, into which, he assures me, he would despatch some of Britain's brightest and best diplomats. Yes, the Tories want the repatriation of some powers, but "we've taken a strategic decision that we're not starting in government [with] a confrontation with the EU". He had an "excellent meeting" with the German foreign minister the other day. And so on. Welcome the new, pro-European Monsieur Hague.

Continue reading Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian