The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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William Hague's European Policy

The Bruges Group publishes its new Occasional Paper , by Martin Holmes, on 24th March. The paper is a hard-hitting analytical appraisal of William Hague's European policy since he became Leader of the Conservative Party. Whilst praising the changes in Conservative policy since Mr Hague became leader it advocates a greater clarity and consistency in his approach and a willingness to embrace the notion that Britain does require a fundamental renegotiation of its relationship with the EU.

Extract from the conclusion:

"The peril of Mr Hague's approach is that it will repeat - albeit on different political ground - John Major's equivocation in the run-up to the 1997 General Election. Far from weakening his position, the renegotiation option would strengthen Mr Hague by removing the taunt that 'in Europe not run by Europe' is a meaningless piety which has been overtaken by events. After 27 years of EU membership, which have been characterised by acrimony rather than harmony, Britain needs a government to renegotiate a satisfactory relationship with the continent based on free trade not political union.

"Mrs Thatcher was unable to reach such a destination because of her removal from office; Mr Major was unwilling to undertake such a renegotiation in the wake of the Maastricht Treaty which he tragically prized. Mr Hague now has a golden opportunity to embrace the policy of fundamental renegotiation - with withdrawal an acknowledged option should diplomacy fail. William Hague should seize the opportunity or else his successor as Conservative leader surely will."