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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine