by Paul Goodman
Eighteen months or so ago, I asked on this site why pro-Eu Conservatives are so shy of making that case? That question may now become redundant – at least as far as a new group of Tory MPs is concerned.
Laura Sandys speaks for a newly-formed European Mainstream Group in the film above. "We feel very strongly that our voice hasn't been heard for many years," she says. "New people have come into Parliament who want to ensure that we have much stronger focus."
Ben Wallace, Ken Clarke's PPS, also speaks out. "I think the other lot are very good at getting their message across," he says – clearly intending to play a part in changing the balance. Richard Ottoway claims that a majority of the Parliamentary Party wants to stay in the EU.
Unlike Sandys, however, he isn't part of the 2010 Conservative intake. The Financial Times, which will be sympathetic to its cause, reports that Margot James will speak on trade and investment for the group.
A senior pro-EU Conservative MP told me that the new initiative has been kept separate from the Conservative Europe Group (CEG) partly because "it represents the passing of the torch to the next generation".
The group doesn't have a website that I can find as I write, and I will update this post as and when more information comes in. In the meantime, three quick points:
- Euro-enthusiasts remain wary of making their case – or at least of being identified in public. The Financial Times (again) said recently of a pro-EU backbench letter that "only 15 of the 25 signatories were prepared to have their names published".
- That initiative was organised by Robert Buckland, who is a Vice-Chairman of the CEG. He argued recently in the New Statesman that "the uncertainty over Britain's EU membership is damaging growth".
- Other MPs in the 2010 intake who lean towards the Euro-enthusiast end of the scale include Jane Ellison, Neil Carmichael, Anna Soubry.