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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.
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.

Will a Conservative Government Deliver on Europe?

Nigel Farage MEP
Simon Heffer


Conservative Party fringe meeting
At the 2008 Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham the Bruges Group asked the key question of whether or not a future Conservative Government will be able and will have the will to roll-back the decades of surrendering our sovereignty to Brussels; or will it settle to be just in office but not in power?

The speakers

Simon Heffer is a well known broadcaster and columnist with The Daily Telegraph where he is also Associate Editor. Formerly, he was the Deputy Editor of The Spectator and also wrote for The Daily Mail. He is known and respected for his cogent views on the EU, political correctness and the Conservative Party.

Simon Heffer’s publications include Like the Roman: the life of Enoch Powell and Nor Shall my Sword: the reinvention of England.

Click here to read the full speech by Simon Heffer

Nigel Farage is the Leader of the UK Independence Party and is also an MEP for the South East. He was a Commodity Broker in the City and ran his own brokerage firm. Nigel was active in the Conservative Party until the overthrow of Margaret Thatcher.

Nigel is a member of the Bruges Group and is also the author of the Bruges Group paper Democracy in Crisis.

Click here to read the full speech by Nigel Farage MEP

Speech by Simon Heffer

I look around the room and I see so few of you here, clearly the Conservative Party was right to say that there was no interest in any debate on Europe. The Daily Telegraph didn’t try to ban me from coming here today, they always like me to go and meet the readers and can I say what a very fine body of men and women you all are and we’re very proud to have you.

I’ve come to the conclusion quite a long time ago in my so-called trade as a journalist that journalists are only ever present at the making of history by accident. And so it was that almost exactly 20 years ago I found myself in Bruges on the day that Mrs Thatcher made that magnificent speech. It was an accident because my very enlightened Editor, Max Hastings, had taken the view about ten days earlier when this trip was announced, that it was clearly going to be light entertainment and that therefore there was no need to send a proper political correspondent, they could instead send the paper’s Parliamentary sketch writer and that was I.

And having been really since the cradle a Powellite on the question of Europe, I was sitting on the plane when we were given the advance of the Bruges speech and I remember almost having a cataleptic fit as we flew over the coast of Kent, thinking having waited all my life really for a Conservative leader to get up and speak for England – sorry Britain, I mustn’t be too sectarian – here at last someone was doing it and so the Daily Telegraph sketch writer found himself in Bruges splashing the paper the next day on this remarkable story that at last the greatest peacetime Prime Minister that any of us will ever experience had got up and said what we’d all believed for so many years that Europe had gone so far and could not go any further.

I think I’m unique though in that 15 days before the Bruges speech was made I was sitting in a very airless room at Bournemouth in my capacity as the paper’s sketch writer for the Trades Union Congress. And there was this little Frenchman I’ve never heard of before called Jacques Delors – mind you I don’t think he’d heard of me either so we’re not going to be too unfair about it – who turned up and to the delight of many of the lefties present and to the sheer shock of this right winger sitting at the back with his press hat on, said don’t worry, Europe is going to liberate you from the evils of Thatcherism, its going to liberate you from all these nasty markets and all this nasty freedom and all these other nasty things you don’t really like and we’ll go back to a proper rigid sovietised authoritarian setup that everybody feels so comfortable with.

And of course I sat there having another one of my many cataleptic fits, but what I didn’t know was that back in Downing Street Mrs Thatcher was having this drawn to her attention by Charles Powell and was being told that this disgusting man, who was the unelected appointed and completely undemocratic president of the unelected disgusting and completely undemocratic European Union or whatever it was called in those days, was saying that he was going to start running this country. And of course Mrs T who thought that there was only one person who’d been elected to do that and that was she, wasn’t going to take this lying down and so they worked on this speech, which is the raison d’ être of this magnificent group and the reason I suspect why many of us are here today.

And I can’t tell you, I mean many of you will have your own memories of that speech, but I can’t tell you how I felt as I sat on that aeroplane reading the advance of it because the Conservative Party right up until 1988 had been suffocated under the mantel of Heathite Europeanism and while I defer to no one in my admiration of Lady Thatcher and God bless her at all times, it had taken her nine and a half years into her premiership to find at last the will to take Europe head on, the trouble is we know what happened next. Her party full to the brim with Heathites said well hang on minute we can’t possibly do this, we can’t possibly have a fight with those European people because it’s a bit – to use a much later phrase – nasty because you know European hegemony is the right way forward, you know we are nothing, we have no national self-confidence, we have no national identity, we’re nothing without Europe and so of course over the next two years they tried and to my intense regret they succeeded in having her removed from office, even though as we all know, she spoke voluably for the British people on this question. And this proved a point that the Heathites had never gone away, that the series of lies told by Heath between 1970 and 1973 when we finally went into Europe were still current and that the Conservative Party was determined to adhere to the Heathite dishonesty about Europe.

Now Mrs Thatcher was removed, replaced by an infinitely lesser man and I would argue has for the most part been replaced by a succession of lesser men ever since. And I just feel that the Conservative Party has it in its DNA to be Chamberlainite about Europe. By that I mean that the instinct of whoever is leading the Conservative Party at the time, whatever his rhetoric might be from time to time is to say we have to go along with what our partners in Europe want. And I must say having looked at the last 24 hours at what passes for a debate at the highest levels of the party between the Shadow Foreign Secretary Mr Hague and the leader of the opposition, Mr Cameron, they don’t seem to be able to make their minds up on Europe, clearly it is an issue that they would rather was no raised at their non-triumphalist conference here. Its much better of course for the Conservative Party to spend these three or four days cocking your leg over the Labour Party and being quite correctly deeply unpleasant about the mess that Gordon Brown has made of the British economy, although as Barry said and I entirely endorse him, it would help them to be really quite vicious and forceful on this issue if they hadn’t sought for most of the last three years to imitate Labour’s economic policies.

But we had Mr Hague yesterday giving an interview I think to the Sunday Times in which he says there is a possibility of a Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon if it is not ratified. Dave was asked the same question yesterday morning on television and says well I don’t know about that. Well of course they don’t know about that.

Let me tell you a cautionary tale, I was sitting in a club in London just over two and a half years ago and its one of those clubs where you turn up and you sit next to the person you sit next to and you have lunch with them. And the man who turned up and sat next to me was a Tory MP, no names. And he was one of the Heathite lefties to whom I was referring earlier, and I said to him ‘well you must be very disappointed at the moment because your new leader has made it very clear that he is going to take the Conservatives out of the EPP and there’s going to be no mixing with federalists in Europe anymore’. And this chap looked at me and said ‘Oh Simon that isn’t going to happen’. And I said ‘well hang on a minute, Dave has said its going to happen, Dave has in fact solicited the votes I think of no fewer than 25 Conservative Members of Parliament on the back of the fact that he’s going to do this’ and I was told, ‘no, Dave’s had a word with Ken’, that of course is the great Mr Clarke, ‘Dave’s had a word with Ken and Ken has been assured it wont happen’.

Now over the next two or three months, without revealing this man’s identity, when one or two very enthusiastic right wingers – enthusiastic that is for David Cameron – came up to me and said its all going to be fine, we’re getting out of the EPP I would say, well actually I’m not so sure because I’ve had it on very good authority that that isn’t going to happen. Of course in July 2006 William Hague announces that the Tories may well leave the EPP but not until after the next European elections which were then three years off.

So we’ve seen already demonstrated by the Cameron administration of the Tory Party that they have no desire to confront big issues in Europe. Will there be a Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon if it’s not ratified; I wouldn’t put money on it. Will there be a Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon if it has been ratified; certainly not. And this becomes a question as all questions to do with Europe, of our own belief in democracy, our own belief that we live in a nation whose constitutional freedoms are there to be guaranteed and protected by those whom we elect to power.

Now I am in no doubt that the Treaty of Lisbon is a piece of evil, I am in no doubt that the Treaty of Lisbon should not be ratified by this country, should not be passed into a law affecting this country. We have to be grateful to plucky little Ireland for stalling it so far and I hope very much that following President Sarkozy’s determination that the Irish will vote again and will keep voting until the right result is obtained, that the people of Ireland who we know are traditionally rather strong-minded about certain things, will show Mr Sarkozy exactly what they think of his determination for them to keep on voting and they will keep on voting and voting it down for very good reasons.

But why should we always rely on others to get us off the hook, why should we as a nation always rely on other nations to do our dirty work for us? Isn’t it time that we started to stand up for ourselves, are we so lacking in a sense of self-confidence, are we so lacking in a sense of belief in the importance of our own sovereignty, the importance of our own independence that we will simply say, no we can’t have this fight, others must have it for us.

Now its my view, and call me old fashioned if you want, that the Conservative Party, which used to be the Party of the constitution of this country, which was the Party that believed in upholding the constitutional freedoms of this country, is the Party, whether in opposition or in Government, that should be yelling from the rooftops that we not only will not accept the Treaty of Lisbon but that if by some mischance it is put into law before a Conservative Government comes back to power, that that Conservative Parliament will repeal it and take it out of law.

Instead we just have silence from them and when there is a debate like this packed out with people, standing room only, they go to the authoritarian lengths of banning two of their more sceptical MEPs from coming and having a discussion with us, with Nigel and with me about the future of Europe.

By the way I don’t want to distract any fire from the Bruges Group but if any of you have nothing to do at 5:30 I’m giving a talk on freedom of speech to the Conservative Party for the Freedom Association and I may say no more about Messrs Helmer and Hannan until then.

But we are now living in a climate where Europe has been taken off the agenda, to use a very popular contemporary adjective; it’s become a toxic subject again for the Conservative Party. I don’t give a stuff how toxic they think it is, this is something that affects our very freedoms as a nation, it’s a thing that affects our right to govern ourselves and I’m sorry, in my view there is nothing more important than our right to govern ourselves.

I’m still slightly scarred by a conversation I had about 15 years ago with a member of the major cabinet, who like most of them was toadying along to the line that we had to go into the ERM, stay there and be good Europeans. I said to this person, Ken I said tell me what we do, if we go into a single currency and we no longer have any control over our interest rates, our exchange rate and we have a real economic meltdown and I said at the moment if that happens its quite simple, the Government that has brought you that economic mismanagement is booted out and somebody else is given an opportunity to manage the economy correctly. But I said, what happens when whoever’s in power they don’t manage the economy because somebody who none of us has elected is sitting in Frankfurt doing it for them and whomever we vote for, whether it’s the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the BNP, the Green Party, whoever else you want to vote for, it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference because when they come into power they have to do what they’re told by Frankfurt. I said surely the lesson of the rest of the world tells us that if you can’t change anything by voting people will seek to change things by methods other than voting. You will have riots in the streets. And he looked at me and he guffawed and he said well that’s not going to happen, I said well how do you know it’s not going to happen? And he said because the Euro is going to be so strong and the economy will be so strong there will be broad sunlit uplands of endless prosperity and its never going to change.

Well okay the Euro is extremely strong, any of you who have been to Europe for your holidays will have come back with your credit card bills hurting like hell; its not going to last. Europe is the next real beneficiary of what we’re seeing in Wall Street. In the French economy 53% of its GDP is spent in the public sector, the Germans have toxic debt, the Italian economy is a basket case, in Spain property prices are falling through the floor, Ireland is in recession. Now you tell me what’s going to happen next in the Euro zone. I’ll tell you its going to be just what’s happened in America and just what’s happening here and we’re all going to be in the same boat. Luckily we still do have access to our own rather inadequate life raft.

Now I want the Conservative Party to start to engage in this debate because Europe is incredibly important. We see Europe posturing not just in economic terms but we’ve seen Sarkozy posturing as President of Europe going off to try and sort out the Georgia crisis. You may remember him going to Moscow not long ago and as he put it, trying to broker a cease fire in Georgia with President Medvedev. In fact all he did was go and take a piece of paper that had been written up by Medvedev down to Saakashvili in Georgia and tell him to accept it. It would have actually been much cheaper for the EU if DHL had been used.

But the Conservative Party doesn’t want to have this conversation, it seems to think that it can have a party conference like this where Europe isn’t debated, where it bans its own MEPs from coming and having a serious debate with a respectable group like this in front of many of its members like you because its not important because Europe wont be an issue.

We know that is rubbish, we know that when and if a Conservative Government is re-elected in this country, the people in Europe will say, ah well we like dealing with the Tories because they always give in in the end, you know remember the Treaty of Brussels, remember the Treaty of Maastricht they always give in, they always do what we want, they are natural appeasers.

Now I think its time for the Conservative Party to get up and say actually we’ve had enough of being tarred with Neville Chamberlain’s brush about this. We are an independent nation, we are a strong nation going through a bad patch at the moment but we believe in ourselves and we believe in our ability to govern ourselves and we believe in our sovereignty and we believe that when we have general elections if we have a lousy government and we throw it out, we can replace it with a good one that wont take its orders from somewhere else. And yes of course the Conservative Party is terrified of getting into the business of repealing the Treaty of Lisbon if it has been put into law by then because they will see it, I hope quite correctly, as the thin end of the wedge. I don’t just want the Treaty of Lisbon repealed, I want all these Treaties repealed, I want to repeal every Treaty back to the Treaty of Rome.

I know we were asked in 1975, but actually I was only 14 at the time. For some reason I didn’t have a vote, which I thought was rather unkind of them. Its 33 years ago, its time we were asked. I’ve still got at home somewhere the three leaflets you may remember that were put out in the 75 Referendum. There was a yes leaflet and a no leaflet and another yes leaflet, which was the Government’s leaflet so it was an incredibly fair fight and indeed the 2-1 balance of the leaflets reflected the 2-1 balance of the outcome but we were lied to, we were told this was simply going to be a trading operation. We weren’t told there was going to be a common defence policy, a common foreign policy, we weren’t told that someone in the spirit of Chris Patton would be running around the world when we have our own Foreign Secretary inadequate though he may be representing the foreign affairs of the whole of Europe. We weren’t told this, we weren’t told that we’d be talking now about getting Ukraine and Turkey and up to another five or six countries in to make it a 35 or even 40 strong group of people, no one ever told us that and its time we were asked again. But the Conservative Party is terrified to ask the British people again for one very good reason; they know what the answer would be.

And can you imagine Dave ringing up Barroso in his best Portuguese and saying I’m sorry old boy but we’re off. We’d like our money back and we’re taking our bat and ball home because actually the democratic wish of the British people is we don’t have anything to do with you anymore. They just won’t do it.

Now its very easy to blame the Foreign Office for this, very easy to say oh well the Foreign Office has always been so pro-European and they wont accept that there should ever be a change, its not, there are people who need no help at all from the Foreign Office and the Conservative Party to be rabid Heathite pro-Europeans who want the status quo, in fact want more than the status quo, they want a federal Europe, they are natural federalists. And yes many of these may have gone by the wayside in the last 11 years of opposition but they are still there. And what worries me is that their toxicity is rubbing off on the leadership of the Party, if it weren’t Dan Hannan and Roger Helmer would be sitting down her with us today.

I must conclude because as you are aware I’m only actually Nigel Farage’s warm-up man and I don’t want to detract from his magnificence, which is quite magnificent let me say. He’s one of the finest Conservatives I know and don’t be misled by the fact that he’s in UKIP, which are also the finest Conservative Party that we have.

I want to conclude by saying two things, there will be a general election in this country at some stage in the next 18 months, who knows when, who knows how Gordon Brown’s survival mechanism will function over the next few weeks. It could come sooner, it may well come later. When you are visited by a Conservative canvasser in that election do ask where your perspective Member of Parliament stands on the question of the Treaty of Lisbon and unless you are given an absolutely categorical undertaking that he wishes the Treaty to be repealed or wishes a Referendum to be held on it, one or the other depending on what state we’re at, feel free not to vote for him.

I know it’s a hard thing to say but these are life and death issues, this is the life and death of the sovereignty of our country and there is nothing I’m afraid more important than that as far as I’m concerned.

If you feel nervous about that, just remember one other thing, that in my opinion the greatest man ever to come from Birmingham once said, its 40 years ago next week at the Tory Party Conference at Blackpool when Enoch Powell got up and in a speech about immigration ended it by saying there are too many people about today who say to us this is not possible, that is not possible, I say whatever the true interest of our country calls for is always possible, we have nothing to fear but our own doubts. Go forward, do not doubt that we can get our sovereignty back from Europe, do not doubt it will be a hell of a fight to do so, but equally do not doubt that its time that the Conservative Party started standing up for Britain and standing out for our sovereignty. Thank you very much.

Speech by Nigel Farage

Well Mr Chairman, Simon, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the invite and on behalf of all of us well done the Bruges Group because if it wasn’t for you and the Freedom Association this week in Birmingham would be indeed an EU-free zone wouldn’t it. They don’t want to discuss it and I’m sorry, I’m genuinely sorry that Dan and Roger aren’t here because they are the only two Conservative MEPs who’ve actually got the courage to stand up and say the right thing.

But they’ve been warned off haven’t they, they’ve been warned off because they must not share a platform with that dreadful bloke Farage. I mean he really is frightful, he’s so frightful that we call him a crank and we call him a gadfly and an eccentric and perhaps my favourite, a fruitcake, not to mention of course closet racist and many other terms of abuse. I don’t think David Cameron understands that when he picks on me and picks on UKIP and throws out these terms of abuse what he’s actually doing is abusing 80% of his own party members and over two thirds of people in this country who now clearly say they believe that the best people to govern Britain are the British people themselves through the ballot box, shame on you Mr Cameron for throwing around those terms of abuse.

So perhaps it’s my turn to have a go back today. The title of this meeting Mr Chairman, will a Conservative Government deliver on Europe? I think the answer is very easy, under David Cameron, no. And so with that I suppose we could all just retire to the bar, which is what I’d normally do, but if I can just indulge you for a few moments, I think the evidence is very clear. I remember being on Eurostar one day with Dan Hannan – I’m sorry Dan’s not here – I said Dan I can’t believe it, I’ve read in the paper this morning that you’re backing Cameron for the leadership. I said surely David Davis would be much more to your way of thinking. And Dan said, Nigel I’ll tell you why I’m backing Cameron, because he has made the one promise on the European Union that is deliverable. He’s stood up and he’s clearly said that he’ll take the Conservative Party out of the ghastly federalist EPP and he’ll do so within a matter of months. That’s why I’m backing David Cameron, that’s why many, many Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party left David Davis and supported David Cameron.

Well what’s he done, he’s ratted on it hasn’t he. They haven’t left the EPP; they are as firmly ensconced as they were before David Cameron became the leader. Oh but there’s some promise that after the European elections of 2009 then they’re going to leave the EPP and set up their own group. Well I’ll have a £10 bet with any man or woman in this room that it simply won’t happen, he’ll rat again. It will not happen, he’s ratted once on this, he’ll rat against on this.

And just look at the CFP policy, you know for years at your Tory conferences there was the remarkable John Ashworth of Save Britain’s Fish who was battling and battling and battling to get the Conservative Party to change its policy on one of the most ruinous aspects of our membership of the European Union and one of the greatest manmade environmental disasters on the planet. Do you know in the North Sea now we’re apparently throwing back dead over 70% of what we’re catching. We’ve lost over 100,000 jobs in British fishing and British fish processing since we joined the Common Market back in 1973. And after years and years and years of John Ashworth bravely trying to get the Tory Party to change policy, under Michael Howard it did and it promised that an incoming Conservative Government would unilaterally take Britain out of the Common Fisheries Policy, restore our territorial waters and give our industry a chance. What’s David Cameron done? He has abolished that policy and he’s said that we must negotiate from within to get a better deal.

It reminds me of that wonderful cartoon that Matt drew years ago on the Telegraph and it was at a time when I think William Waldegrave was negotiating a fisheries deal and it showed a fish inside a trawl net talking to a fish outside the trawl net and the bubble caption literally was ‘generally I find its better to negotiate from within’.

And that just about sums it up so on the common fisheries policy Cameron has ratted on that. And what about when it comes to a Referendum, well Simon mentioned earlier the difficulties yesterday between the Hague position and the Cameron position, all I can say about Cameron’s position apropos a Referendum is that he has been consistently equivocal. Nobody actually knows what he’s saying, although he did say on the Andrew Marr programme yesterday, he said the Lisbon Treaty is alive and well. Well as long as you’re around old son it certainly is isn’t it.

If he was genuine, if he really was a Eurosceptic, Euro realist, if he really believed that we should be governing our own country and not having much more than a trade relationship with our European neighbours, he has the power, given his lead in the polls, he has the power to kill the Lisbon Treaty stone dead this very afternoon. He has that power. All he has to do is to stand up and say that this Government was elected on a specific election manifesto to give the British people a Referendum on this constitutional treaty and that as such, given that they’ve broken their promise he will not recognise the legitimacy of the Lisbon Treaty until the British people have been asked that question. If he did it it would kill Lisbon because what it would do, it would strengthen the arm of the Polish President who is currently battling it, it would strengthen the arm of the majority at the moment of Members of Parliament in the Czech Parliament, it would strengthen the arm of the Irish to resist having to be asked to vote again and some of you may have seen today’s news that the Eurosceptics, albeit ones way to the right politically from us in this room, but the Eurosceptics in Austria scored 30% of the vote yesterday.

Mr Cameron could kill this Treaty stone dead, he just refuses to do so and he goes on day after day concealing the truth. I watched him on Marr yesterday, I watched George Osborne this morning on BBC Breakfast talking about the credit crunch, talking about financial regulation, I mean pretending that if they’re in Government they will actually have a say over how the city is regulated, they wont we’ve given that away. And what Osborne didn’t tell you this morning, and I’m sorry that Dan and Roger aren’t here this afternoon because they were the two exceptions, what they’re not telling you, and please go back into that conference hall and do ask these questions, what they’re not telling you is that last Tuesday the Conservative Party in Brussels was whipped, three line whipped to vote for a report by a guy called Rasmussen who is the former socialist Prime Minister of Denmark, a man who told me to my face a couple of years ago that his intention was to close down the Anglo Saxon City of London. Conservative MEPs last week were whipped to vote for his report begging the European Commission to introduce fresh legislation to govern the hedge fund industry.

So where’s the truth with Cameron, where’s the truth with Osborne, this going on, this masquerading that somehow we govern our own financial services sector, we do not. When does he ever stand up and tell you that 75% of the new laws that are made in this country every year aren’t made by the men and women we vote for and send to Westminster, they’re made by the institutions of the European Union and even if all 646 MPs voted against any directive or regulation that wouldn’t matter because European law is superior over British law.

I mean frankly it seems to me that the choice at the next election is between New Labour and Blue Labour, frankly you cannot put a cigarette paper between these party leaders on issues of real, real substance. Well you can say rubbish but look at it, 75% of our laws are made somewhere else and with this Lisbon Treaty that percentage can only increase.

Now I think this issue is important but David Cameron doesn’t seem to think it is. In fact he says we mustn’t bang on about Europe, that’s what he says isn’t it? Well as far as I’m concerned we are talking about the birthright of our children and grandchildren for them to grow up and live in a country that they can call their own for them to be able to be a self-governing people, and as far as I’m concerned we must bang on about Europe as much as we possibly can.

This isn’t a single issue, this is about who is going to govern us, who is going to make our own laws, is this democracy that those that went before us in the last century were prepared twice to risk everything to defend, isn’t that worth something now? It must be, it has to be and there’s a young generation that sees it.

But the question I guess is what can be done and it seems to me there are two ways of doing something to try to get this Conservative Government, if indeed that’s what we’re going to have in 18 months time, to deliver and one is fight on from within. And I watch Dan and I watch Roger within the British MEPs, Conservative MEPs and I watch them fighting from within and I admire how they vote and what they say and how they speak, I just wish they attended a few more meetings you know but there we are. But the fact is they are in a hopeless and tiny minority. The vast majority of British MEPs are committed to one membership of the Europe project. The vast majority of Conservative MPs are committed to our membership of the European project, so fighting from within is one way but the difficulty of course is that Mr Cameron is apparently 12% ahead in the polls and he was 20% ahead in the polls last week. Now what I’m going to suggest is that the most likely way to get a Conservative Government to deliver on this great question is if we provide them with some kind of a threat and I think we have an opportunity.

The European elections on June 4, next year, will be the first national test of opinion that we’ve had in this country since the Referendum we were promised wasn’t given to us. Because they’re European elections however much Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative do not want to discuss the issue, unavoidably in those elections they’ve got to. They are elections contested on PR and we could argue the good and bad points about PR but the fact is there are no wasted votes for the so-called smaller passes.

UKIP will be the only party standing nationally saying we want trade, we want cooperation, we want to be good neighbours with our European friends, although we accept with the French that might be a little bit tricky from time to time. But we want to have a 21st century relationship with the European Union, one where we buy and sell goods, one where we have deals and we can work in Paris or they can come and work here but one where we make our own laws and govern our own country. And what I am going to try and do on behalf of UKIP, I want to try and turn those European elections into the Referendum that we never had, to invite people from across the spectrum and I’m going to say to you, as Conservative Party members and activists, does it really make any difference to you whether you have 15 federalists sitting out in Brussels or 20 federalists sitting out in Brussels, yes there will be one or two good people, Dan is at the top of the Southeast list, Roger’s at the top of the East Midlands list, they’re a shoe in already. But the irony is the more MEPs you get elected next year the more people you have representing your party that support the European Union.

It’s a chance to give your own party a shock, it’s a chance to send Cameron a serious message and so what I’m going to ask you as Conservative activists to do next year is to lend us your vote. Lend us your vote for those elections because you’ve got, if you believe in the things that are being said from this platform today, you have got to give your party leader a shock of some kind.

Now I know that there will be people sitting here listening thinking well we can’t do that because we’re loyal, we’re loyal to the party and we’re loyal to the party leadership. I admire loyalty but there is such a thing as misplaced loyalty and my view is that loyalty to one’s nation, loyalty to one’s history, loyalty to one’s tradition of independence and democracy matters much more than tradition tribal loyalty to any one particular political party.

So there is a chance to send these Conservatives a message, a big, strong, clear message that they simply won’t forget. And remember there are some quite good recent precedents. You know if Jimmy Goldsmith had decided to fight from within the Conservative Party we would have joined the Euro in 1999. It was because Jimmy Goldsmith fought from without the Conservative Party that he got Blair and Major – I’d almost forgotten his name he was so insignificant – he got Blair and Major in an electoral half Nelson and they both promised us didn’t they, they wouldn’t take us into the Euro unless first we had a Referendum. Goldsmith proved that you can achieve a great deal from outside the mainstream. My hope is that we can do that next year in 2009. If we don’t and if we don’t have an incoming Government next time round that promises the British people a free and a fair Referendum on our own future on the way in which we’re governed, then frankly what’s the point whether you’ve got a Labour Government or a Conservative Government. They will be so hamstrung they frankly wont be able to make any difference.

And can I just finish by saying that one thing that I’ve noticed and its in the Conservative Party and its in the Labour Party and its in the Bruges Group and its certainly in UKIP, is we’ve been quite good over the last ten years, 15 years perhaps at telling people what’s wrong with the EU, how bad the EU is, but what we all need to recognise is this remarkable phenomenon that between the 18-30 years olds out there, there are more people rejecting the European model than in the older age groups and that for us to get those people excited, for us to get those people onboard what we’ve all got to do is to start being a bit more positive. Let’s start talking about Britain free to make her own trade deals with any countries she chooses on the globe in a modern 21st century global economy. Let’s start talking about the benefits of having our democracy back. Let’s start talking about how much more self-confident we’ll feel when once again we’re the masters of our own house. Thank you.

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Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
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