Reuters/ The Scotsman are reporting that William Hague has rejected a compromise proposal on David Cameron’s leadership pledge to leave the EPP. The compromise proposal was apparently proposed by Timothy Kirkhope MEP, leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament. An unnamed source told Reuters that Mr Kirkhope had "floated the idea of forming a sort of virtual party now, but it would not actually come in to effect until the next European Parliament elections in 2009."
The Tories are apparently on course to form a new group in the European Parliament by June. The main partners will be the Czech Republic’s Civic Democratic Party and Poland’s Law and Justice Party. The Scotsman:
"A new group in the European Parliament requires 19 members from at least five different countries. Sources said the new group will have around 55 members with agreements already secured with at least 35 MEPs. These include nine from the ODS, 10 from Law and Justice plus four other Poles, four Latvians, three French, two Lithuanians and one each from Ireland, Italy and Sweden. The euro-sceptic Czech party is expected to win next month’s general election, while the Poles are currently in government."
Editor’s note: "The Tory leader must not think delivery on the EPP pledge will satisfy the demands of Britain’s Eurosceptic majority. In itself it will do nothing to restore powers to Britain. 87% of Tory members want the European Union to return responsibility for fishing and aid policies to member states and, in good time, Mr Cameron’s new grouping must lead calls for such repatriations of power. Taking Tory MEPs out of the EPP will, however, begin to show that people can take Mr Cameron at his word. Political honesty is, perhaps, one of the reasons why – very surprisingly – New Statesman readers made Mrs Thatcher their fifth most highly-rated ‘hero of our time’. In his NS tribute to Mrs T, historian Andrew Roberts said this of Britain’s greatest modern, peacetime PM:
"She was always true to her word. When she said the lady wasn’t for turning, she wasn’t. When she said the Falklands must be liberated come what may, they were. When she said that people would be allowed to buy their own council houses, they were, too. When she told European politicians that she wanted a rebate on the billions Britain overpaid the Community, she held out until she got one.
There’s a downside to all this refreshing candour. The kind of permanent revolution she offered did not suit everyone, and eventually she was overthrown. But she went down fighting for her principles; no one was in any doubt about what she stood for and what she believed in. You might not have agreed with her, but you can’t deny that hers was an honesty of the kind hardly ever heard from today’s so-called leaders. That, I suspect, rather than her free-market ideology, is why New Statesman readers have finally acknowledged her heroism in this unexpected, if welcome, way.""