Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

The BBC’s Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, wrote, over the weekend, of David Cameron’s predicament if he were to win the 2015 election, when he will attempt to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership with the EU. “It will be”, writes Hewett, “a long, tortuous process, strewn with potential difficulties.”

Hewitt explains that not only will nothing happen swiftly but if the UK did not get concessions it seeks it could potentially block further treaty change. However, Hewitt says, “it would make Britain extremely unpopular. As far as Berlin is concerned that would be the unforgivable sin.” You can read more of Hewett’s article here. The potential damaging effects are clear and Hewitt is aboslutely right, moves like this would simply ostracise the UK’s position in Europe.

Meanwhile, Lord Howe accused David Cameron of running scared of his backbenchers and endangering Britain’s future in Europe. He voiced concern in a strongly worded intervention of his own party’s position on Europe, in an article he penned for the Observer this weekend.

He writes that  Cameron has opened a ‘Pandora’s box’ by opposing the current terms of the UK’s membership of the European Union and now appears to be losing control of his party.  Lord Howe claims that the question of Europe “has turned an internal Tory problem into a national one.”

He claims the debate within the party on Europe is farcical and warns that Labour and the Liberal Democrats may need to bear the burden of retrieving the situation.

He says the the party is  now out of control, lamenting: “Sadly, by making it clear in January that he opposes the current terms of UK membership of the EU, the prime minister has opened a Pandora’s box politically and seems to be losing control of his party in the process.”

He writes that the UK cannot possibly believe it will hold anything like the position of power to which it aspires without the vehicle of the EU, unless the country was to join the United States. “Leaving the union would, by contrast in my view, be a tragic expression of our shrinking influence and role in the world – and the humbling of our ambitions, already sorely tested by the current crisis, to remain a serious political or economic player on the global stage.”

He suggests this is a “very dangerous choice indeed” and reminds us that Britons have hugely benefited from greater competition, lower prices and wider choice, due to membership of the EU.It’s a strong article and sets out an allternative argument very well. You can read his article in full here.

It isn’t just politicians debating the hopeless position the Tory party is creating on the issue of Europe but business leaders have written a strongly worded open letter accusing Cameron of putting “putting politics before economics”, business leaders have said.

In a letter to the Independent, figures from BT, Shell, Lloyds Banking Group and Deloitte, estimated membership was worth up to £92bn a year to Britain.

The letter says: “We should promote the cause of EU membership as well as defend our position” and said: “The economic case to stay in the EU is overwhelming,” they wrote.

The letter’s signatories included the current and next presidents of the Confederation of British Industry, the chairmen of BT, Deloitte, Lloyds and Centrica, and Virgin Group boss Sir Richard Branson.  You can read the letter here, along with a full list of signatories.