Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Cameron's Europe Miscalculation

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Cameron's Europe Miscalculation

Article excerpt

One is always reluctant to intrude on a family feud and so Labour's response to what is happening inside the Conservative Party is probably the right one--to watch from the sidelines as the participants tear each other apart. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the SNP watches with delight as more senior Tories call for the UK's unilateral withdrawal from the European Union.

David Cameron once promised that he and his party would not "keep banging on about Europe". Bitter divisions over Britain's role in and relationship with the EU rendered the party all but ungovernable under John Major.

Yet in the long years of opposition after 1997, the Conservatives--the party that took the UK into what was then the European Economic Community in 1973 under Ted Heath--became not less, but even more Eurosceptic. The influence of pro-EU grandees such as Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke and Douglas Hurd diminished and nobody of similar views and disposition in the next generation emerged to replace them. …

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