"You may have come across a reference in a diary or elsewhere to the
fact that 9 May is "Europe Day" and perhaps asked about its
significance. Probably very few people in Europe know that on 9 May 1950 the first
move was made towards the creation of what is now known as the European
It is 56 years to the day since French Foreign Minister
Robert Schuman called on Europe to pool coal and steel production as "the first concrete foundation of a European federation".
Chris Patten last night marked this precious occasion by sounding off against David Cameron’s pledge to leave the European People’s Party. He said that now is not the time to be throwing custard pies at the EU, and that the commitment had not been thought through.
Lord Patten is not alone – Quentin Davies MP, who recently wrote about political funding, had already said the Conservatives would look like dishonest double-glazing merchants and gazumpers if they left the EPP. There is even a "Campaign for the Conservatives to remain in the EPP-ED Group" blog, it is rarely updated but does include handy "Good Guys", "On the fence" and "Bad Guys" lists of MEPs.
George Osborne reaffirmed the pledge on Sunday AM, saying "we have a clear commitment to leave the European People’s Party… we are making pretty good progress with finding partners". A senior party insider that I have spoken to is confident the party will disaffiliate within months.
William Hague has been in negotiations with like-minded parties, a key one being the Czech ODS party which is heading for victory in next month’s elections.
The issue was first brought to public attention in September when Liam Fox pledged to leave the grouping if elected leader. ConservativeHome is now taking questions for Liam in the Interviews section.