Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough & Whitby and a former deputy Conservative Leader in the European Parliament, has urged David Cameron to "forge ahead quickly" with his promise to take Tory MEPs out of the federalist European Peoples’ Party. Mr Goodwill uses a pamphlet for the Cornerstone Group of socially conservative MPs to urge the Tory leader to resist “tired and threadbare” claims that EPP withdrawal will undermine Conservative influence in Europe:
“David Cameron’s wise decision to leave the EPP would not only provide Conservatives with more resources, independent control over their finances, a seat at the Conference of Presidents and a seat in the front row of Parliament, it will also enable Conservatives better to represent British beliefs and protect British interests."
Senior Tory figures such as Ken Clarke, Chris Patten and Lord Heseltine have joined the calls from European leaders and Europhile MEPs like Caroline Jackson for Mr Cameron to abandon his EPP pledge. Mrs Jackson – wife of defector Robert Jackson – has called on William Hague to abandon his "pointless rummaging in the margins of European politics" for new coalition partners for Tory MEPs.
John Hayes MP, Cornerstone chairman, has issued a statement saying that David Cameron would have the full backing of the group if he moved soon to leave the EPP. An impeccable source close to David Cameron has assured ConservativeHome that he will deliver on his EPP pledge but the timing remains unclear. Mrs Jackson and one or two other MEPs are not expected to leave the EPP when Mr Cameron forms a new grouping, however.
Mr Goodwill’s pamphlet will soon be posted in full on the Cornerstone website. In the meantime a summary pdf can be accessed here. Cornerstone’s previous paper – by Julian Brazier on higher education – is reviewed here.