Dear Douglas Hurd

A whipless Tory MP warns the Foreign Secretary not to underestimate the mood of Euro-scepticism that is now prevalent in Britain

Forgive me writing to you in such a public way. I hope that your initial small but well-judged smile as you read this will not be followed by one of your occasional, though rather unprofessional, bursts of private anger. I know that you will adjus t to this unexpected vulgarity as you have adjusted in the past to so much of which you disapprove.

Please accept that I write as an admirer. I voted for you in the most recent leadership election. I am sufficiently conventional to be impressed by your intellectual distinction and self-discipline. Of course we are not friends. There is too much mawkishsentimentality about friendship in public life. People are elected to represent views and interests and not to provide emotional support to other public men. However, our paths have often crossed these last 20 years. You may think that from time to timeI have represented a provincial view that has to be at least considered, even by the international elite with whom you feel so comfortable.

There has been a massive change of opinion over Europe. You will remember that during the Maastricht debate I was invited by your constituency association to speak to your supper club to explain my opposition to the treaty. I remember the evening well. Maybe half the audience were uncertain about Maastricht. Since then, events have changed public opinion to a remarkable extent. Public opinion is increasingly aware of the practical disadvantages of our treaties with Europe.

It is the accumulated effect of many problems. Fraud in Europe. The distortions and costs of the Comon Agricultural Policy. Ridiculous decisions about pregnant women in the forces. EU rules about abattoirs. The calf and sheep trade to Europe. Fish. In each instance a minister has to come forward and say: "Sorry, I'm doing my best but I'm powerless, this is an EU matter."

I suppose I ought to thank you and, to a greater extent, Ken Clarke, for the special insight that you have given me. By kicking us out of the party you made the eight, and then the nine, symbols of resistance to the federal excesses of the EU. You and the Prime Minister tried to crush us and get us deselected (I make no complaint: politics is and must be a rough game).

It so far has not worked. Why? Not because of any special personal qualities of the nine. Our associations know from their own connections and conversations that we enjoy very widespread support from the public.

You know from your years as a Foreign Office official of the necessity of consent. Ted Heath bounced the British people in 1972. Margaret Thatcher and John Biffen suborned the House of Commons over the Single European Act of 1986. People began to realisewhat was happening over Maastricht. Now more and more want a looser relationship with Europe.

Of course, we do not want isolation and detachment from Europe but unless you accommodate the mood of increasing nationalism, you run the risk of public resentment forcing you into a referendum. Such a referendum might put the whole European relationshipat risk.

I underestimated the mood of Euro-scepticism before you kicked us out of the party. I hope that you do not make the same mistake.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

    £15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

    Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

    £11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

    £15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy