How do the Tories choose their leader?

Tories and Labor present different points of view on the EU

A conservative Tory government would have a "constructive dialogue" with the EU, but would impose a "compulsory referendum" on all future transfers of power from London to Brussels. The Labor Party, on the other hand, would strive to maintain Britain's "key role" in Europe. This comes from the election manifestos of the two parties, which were unveiled this week in the run-up to the parliamentary elections on May 6th.

At the launch of his election manifesto yesterday (April 13th), Tory leader David Cameron promised that a referendum would be held on all future EU treaties that move competencies from Great Britain to Brussels.

However, the Conservatives did not go so far as to question Britain's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The ratification process was completed in July 2008.

"We will work constructively with the EU, but we will not relinquish any further powers and we will never join the euro," said the Tories' election manifesto. British interests are best served by membership in a union that is "a community of its member states".

The Tories call the ratification of Lisbon, carried out by their political rivals, the Labor Party, without holding a referendum, a "betrayal of the democratic tradition of this country". In their program, presented at the former Battersea power station in London, they promise to ensure that "this shameful episode can never happen again".

Gordon Brown's Labor Party warned that "grumpy resistance and disengagement will get nowhere". She expressed her pride that Britain "has once again become a leading player in Europe".

"The poverty of the Tories' vision is evident in their wrong choice between an alliance with the United States and one with Europe. In Europe, they are not only isolated, but completely marginalized, within a tiny faction of extreme right-wing parties Denying climate change, "said the Labor program presented by Prime Minister Brown at Queen Elisabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Monday.

"Referendum lock"

"We will ensure that it is legally impossible that a future government can cede competences to the EU or join the euro without asking the British people in a referendum", so the program of the Conservatives. It contains the promise to amend the British law on the European Communities of 1972 so that future contracts that cede competences to Brussels would be subject to a referendum - a so-called referendum lock.

The program says it will never convert the UK into the EU's common currency and stresses that its proposed amendment to the 1972 law will discourage any future government from doing so without a referendum.

"The European Union's constant and irresponsible interference in almost every aspect of our lives has gone too far," the document says.

Meanwhile, the rival Labor Party says it will "lead the agenda for an outward-looking European Union that delivers jobs, prosperity and global importance".

"We believe that Britain is stronger in the world when the European Union is strong, and that Britain succeeds when it leads Europe and sets an agenda for change," said her program.

Lisbon competence expansion clauses

The Conservatives warned that the Lisbon Treaty contained clauses that would allow an expansion of EU competences in the future without a new treaty. They cited the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor as an example.

Any major transfers of competencies under such clauses would be subject to a referendum, the Tories said. They promised never to give a future EU prosecutor any jurisdiction in the UK.

The Tories also pledged to bring key legal, criminal and labor law skills back to the UK from Brussels.

Labor, on the other hand, categorically ruled out such a possibility. In their program they refused "any attempt to renegotiate or weaken social rights for the British people".

"Economic strength and social protection go hand in hand. A modern EU must increase competitiveness and growth while guaranteeing job security and fair rights in the workplace," it says in its program.

Regarding EU enlargement, Conservatives will "urge that the gates of the EU be kept open to those countries, including Turkey, who wish to join, subject to strict application of the accession criteria".

Labor also supports Turkey's wish to join and called on all Western Balkan states to open negotiations on EU membership by 2014.

Meanwhile, Britain's third largest party, the Liberal Democrats, unveiled its program this morning. They pledged to hold a referendum on UK membership the next time the UK government approves a fundamental change in UK-EU relations.

All power to the people

Domestic headlines focused on the Conservative promise to restore power to the British people. Parents will then be allowed to manage their own schools, local residents will be allowed to elect their own police chiefs, and voters will be allowed to fire MPs for poor performance.

Their "Invitation to Participate in the Government of the United Kingdom" program includes an offer to hold local referendums on any subject if 5% of local residents support it.

Everyone will have to take part in solving Britain's problems, as the government cannot do it alone, said Cameron when the program was presented yesterday. He called for the creation of a "great society".

Meanwhile, the UK Independence Party promised in its program not to run candidates against "proven Eurosceptics" from other parties, including six Tories.


"We will be positive members of the European Union, but we make it clear that there should be no further expansion of EU competences to the detriment of Great Britain without the consent of the British people," says the program of the Conservative Party for the 2010 election. The UK would never be allowed to slide into a federal Europe.

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there was a "perfect hole" in the middle of the Conservative manifesto. This shows that the party has not changed.

"There is nothing in it that will contribute to the economic recovery. In fact, your actions would jeopardize the recovery," he is quoted by the BBC. "They say that people are on their own. They let people face the recession on their own."

Brown promised to "renew" Britain should he be re-elected. A fourth Labor government will "relentlessly reform" the financial markets and public services.

When presenting the election platform of the Liberal Democrats this morning their leader promised Nick CleggTo lead Britain "to the center of Europe" to ensure that the country uses its influence to create prosperity, security and opportunity for its citizens.

"Britain must work with its foreign partners to best meet the challenges the world is facing," read the Liberal Democrats' manifesto. The program also includes a promise to use the European Union to deliver a global climate deal.

"The Liberal Democrats believe that European cooperation is the best way for Britain to be strong, safe and influential in the future. We will ensure that Britain maximizes its influence through strong and positive engagement," the program said.

Just because Europe is indispensable does not mean that the European Union is perfect. We will continue to work towards improved accountability, efficiency and effectiveness. By working together, EU Member States would have a better chance of dealing with the effects of globalization.

A Liberal Democratic government would hold a referendum on joining the euro if the economic conditions were met.

Domestically, Clegg promised to "integrate justice into British society" by advocating a policy of "hope and credibility". These include an increase in the state pension and the introduction of tax breaks for low and middle earners.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, Chairman of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which is campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, told the BBC that membership of the Union would cost Britain "huge sums of money on the economic side." He cited estimates of £ 120 billion annually.

Without a withdrawal from the EU, Britain will not be able to address the "unfortunate and very worrying economic situation," said Pearson.

The German MEP Martin Schulz, Group leader of the Socialists & Democratsn in the European Parliament, urged British Conservative leader David Cameron to provide information on his links to far-right parties in other EU countries.

"Mr Cameron has to be open and honest about his intentions. After the EU elections last year, he left the conservative group of Sarkozy and Merkel in favor of a new alliance with eurosceptic and partly anti-European politicians, especially from Eastern Europe," said Schulz.

Now his old partners in the pro-European conservative group, the European People's Party, would publicly claim that he would be ready to rejoin their group if he won the election. "It seems that Mr. Cameron has now realized his grave mistake. He must now clarify this publicly."

"People across Europe, not just the UK, have the right to know exactly what position Mr Cameron is taking today on EU issues," Schulz said. He was about to write to Mr Cameron asking him to clarify this and to disclose whether a Conservative government would rejoin mainstream European politics or whether it would remain on the sidelines of decision-making in Brussels and Strasbourg.


Britain will elect a new House of Commons on May 6th, which could mean the end of 13 years of Labor government.

Acting Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who succeeded Tony Blair in 2007, began the campaign as an underdog. Since its popularity ratings have long been low, observers have long predicted an easy victory for David Cameron's Conservative Party.

However, Brown has made a kind of comeback in recent years and narrowed the gap to Cameron. The prospect of a so-called hung parliament, where none of the major parties have an absolute majority, could lead to the Liberal Democrats playing a decisive role in deciding on the next British Prime Minister (EURACTIV 10 March 2010).

time beam

  • May 6th: British general election.

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