TurnawayWilliam Hague’s decision to delay exit from the EPP is looking more and more hi-risk.  ConservativeHome feared that delay would encourage opponents of Mr Cameron’s campaign pledge to dig themselves into increasingly entrenched opposition.  The clearest sign that that is happening comes with today’s news that key European leaders are threatening to turn their backs on Mr Cameron if he does pull his MEPs out of the European Peoples’ Party.

Today’s Times reports the following:

"The Tory leader has been told that senior figures such as Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, are threatening to cut bilateral relations.  In all 11 leaders of right-wing governments and parties have said that they will refuse to work with Mr Cameron if he withdraws Tory MEPs from the European People’s Party grouping in the European Parliament. The list includes Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior Minister and likely presidential candidate, and Mariano Rasjoy, the head of the opposition Spanish Popular Party."

The bullying reaction of the European leaders is, of course, childishly unacceptable but Mr Cameron must act quickly if other federalist forces are to be prevented from organising against his EPP pledge.