Correspondent's Choice

This story about last night’s televised UK election debate was published by EurActiv on 23rd April 2010.

UK Conservative leader David Cameron, who according to polls remains on track to become the next British prime minister, delivered a vintage Tory performance in last night’s televised election debate, declaring that his government wanted to be “in the EU, not run by it”. But his opponents accused him of wanting to isolate the UK on the global stage.

Last night’s TV debate between prime ministerial hopefuls Cameron, incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg saw the Tory leader produce some memorable if predictable Eurosceptic soundbites.

The Tory leader claimed that his opponents “just give in to everything that comes out of Brussels and do not stand up for the country”.

The ‘Europe question’ has historically been a bugbear for Tory leaders, who have to perform a delicate balancing act in keeping the party’s influential Eurosceptic wing happy while also attempting to maintain cordial relations with like-minded political groups across Europe.

Following the June 2009 European elections, Cameron appeared to confirm his Eurosceptic leanings when he pulled the Tories out of the European Parliament’s dominant centre-right group, deeming it to be too pro-EU. Many EU commentators viewed this as a disastrous move for the Tories, believing they would lose influence and important European partnerships (EurActiv 13/07/09).

The Tories were subsequently a driving force behind the formation of a new Eurosceptic group in the EU assembly, the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) (EurActiv 23/06/09). But they have faced persistent attacks that some of their allies have extremist political convictions.

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Blogactiv was recently able to interview Sir Stephen Wall, the former UK Permanent Representative to the EU about this subject.

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  1. When you try to get into step with the electorate, that’s called “playing to the gallery”.

    You have nothing to worry about: Cameron as PM will do nothing to upset the EU apple-cart. The “Eurosceptics” can speak for themselves; we souverainists, though, aren’t going to vote for Cameron just because he comes out with a few soundbites. He has broken his promise about a referendum, just as much as Brown or Clegg.

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