The prospects of David Cameron and William Hague leading Tory MEPs into a broad new grouping of MEPs suffered a major setback this evening with the news that the Czech Civic Democrat Party will not leave the EPP until after the European Elections in 2009. Tory MEPs could still leave the EPP but would now have to form a much narrower group. William Hague was warned that exit should have happened as soon as David Cameron was elected in order to avoid the new coalition unfolding but he chose to ignore that advice. Angela Merkel and other leaders of the EPP have used the intervening period to persuade the Czechs not to ally with the Conservatives. Germany’s CDU – in government – proved more persuasive than the Tories – out-of-office.
Earlier today ConservativeHome revealed that Tory members believed that David Cameron’s trustworthiness could be damaged by any failure to leave the EPP.