Confusion as Tories speak up for euro

WILLIAM HAGUE was accused last night of running "two campaigns" for next week's European Parliament elections after it emerged that the Conservative Party's official website includes statements supporting the single currency.

In sharp contrast to Mr Hague's Eurosceptic stance during the campaign, the party highlights the close links between its MEPs and the centre- right European People's Party (EPP), the second largest group in the parliament with 202 seats compared to the 214-strong Socialist group

Embarrassingly, the Central Office website even lists the names and telephone numbers of John Stevens and Brendan Donnelly, the two Conservative MEPs who left the party in January to form the rival Pro Euro Conservative Party. It is putting up 84 candidates in the Euro elections in the hope of deposing Mr Hague and installing the Europhile Kenneth Clarke as party leader.

In a message on the website, Edward McMillan-Scott, leader of the MEPs, says the Conservatives and their centre-right allies "have the opportunity to change the balance of power in the European Parliament... A gain of just 15 seats could give us a centre-right European Parliament".

The EPP pages on the Central Office website, which use the slogan "Heart of Europe", hails the euro as "a success for the EPP" which "will act as a driving force speeding up the process of European integration". The group also backs harmonisation laws on asylum and immigration thoughout the EU, with "uniform criteria at all European borders". The Conservatives insist there is no contradiction with Mr Hague's hard-line policy of ruling out membership of the single currency in this parliament and the next. They say the Conservative MEPs' status as "allied members" of the EPP means they are not bound by the group's policies. But this statement is at odds with the EPP manifesto, which declares: "We will not try to win your vote by saying different things in different places. We will present the same ideas to everyone everywhere. Our candidates will vary, but not the policies they represent."

Conservative MEPs play leading roles in the EPP: Mr McMillan-Scott is a vice-president and James Provan, MEP for South Downs West, is its chief whip. Last night Tony Blair challenged the Conservatives over the position of their Euro MPs. He said the EPP's rules meant they could only be associate members if they "accept the fundamental political doctrines of the EPP group".

In a letter to Mr McMillan-Scott, Mr Blair said it was clear that Tory MEPs supported the EPP's policies. "Given the differences between these policies and those included in the Tory European manifesto, it seems the Conservative Party says one thing in Brussels while Mr Hague says another in Britain," said Mr Blair.

Margaret Beckett, leader of the Commons, said: "The truth is that there is a massive gap between the isolationism of William Hague, as revealed in this campaign, and the federalism of the EPP." Labour has been more open about its links with its sister parties, running on a joint manifesto agreed with 19 others which form the Party of European Socialists (PES). The Conservatives have sought to exploit the manifesto's calls for "economic co-ordination" and its backing for the euro. But Mr Blair described the programme as a New Labour one and it was co-authored by Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary. "He took out all the timebombs," said a Labour official.

t Labour said it would be "delighted" if Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, a Labour supporter, could be drafted in to boost the party's European election campaign. Party strategists have been hoping to capitalise on his treble-winning success - culminating in his club's European Champions League triumph.

Euro elections, page 8

Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

M&E Construction Planner Solihull

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Car, Healthcare, Pensions: Progressive Recruitment...

Senior Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Leading Sof...

Chemistry Teacher

£90 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried