One of the reasons why Kennedy was on the Today programme at 7.20am was that William
Hague got the prized 8.10am interview. The new Shadow Foreign
Secretary used the interview to say that his own "hardline" Eurosceptic
views of the 2001 election (the BBC’s choice of words) were now the
common ground of UK politics. Everyone he said was now against early euro entry and the EU constitution was off the agenda. He said that he wanted to use his time as Shadow Foreign Secretary to argue for a more competitive Europe. The economic challenges from the Far East and other emerging economies threatened to engulf the sclerotic eurozone economies.
Mr Hague recently compared a visit to the European Parliament to a visit to the dentist. He’ll have to make a number of such visits to the EU’s dentist if he is going to defuse the potentially explosive issue of Tory MEPs leaving the federalist EPP grouping. Mr Cameron made the pledge during the leadership race but recently said that his Shadow Foreign Secretary would be responsible for negotiating the timetabling of the exit. Mr Hague told Today’s listeners that it was right for Tories to leave a group that supported European policies that we did not share. He said it would take months not weeks (not years) to explore and negotiate relations with other mainstream European political parties in advance of forming a new European Parliamentary grouping.
It’s going to be hard work given the political balance of the Tory grouping in the Parliament. The European Parliamentary Labour Party are already making mischief with the fact that the newly re-elected leader of the Tory MEPs – Timothy Kirkhope – opposes leaving the EPP.