LibDems Must Stand Firm on Europe
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 2nd January, 2012
There have been a lot of disquieting rumours flying around the past few days that some LibDem parliamentarians and other senior figures in the Party are considering finding common ground with Conservative Euro-sceptics (or Europhobes, as they ought to be called). If true, this is a dangerous development, though I suspect it has been exaggerated in online media. The Liberal Democrats have long espoused the European Project and many people who joined the party — including former members of both the Conservative and Labour parties — did so because the LibDems have been unequivocal in arguing that European integration is vital for the longterm security and prosperity of our continent and that Britain ought to be at the heart of Europe, not floating ever further off-shore. Of course not everything about the EU is good, let alone perfect, but reform comes best from within, not from the sidelines. And the ongoing crisis over the euro illustrates the need for more effective European cooperation, not less. This was stated very eloquently at the ELDR (European Liberal Democrats) Congress in Palermo last November, with the full agreement of the large British Liberal Democrat delegation. The Tory Eurosceptics are on a roll because of their ‘victory’ in getting David Cameron to refuse to back measures put forward at the last Brussels Summit. But that is not a reason for Liberal Democrats in government to endorse any weakening of Britain’s position within the EU, or to push for the so-called repatriation of powers. That is a road that leads firmly to the exit door, which is what the Daily Mail and the Tory Eurosceptics of course want. But it is completely contrary to Liberal Democrat policy and should remain so.