Hague defiant as EU Tories split

WILLIAM HAGUE'S problems over Europe deepened yesterday as pro- EU Tories launched a breakaway party and Michael Portillo attacked Michael Heseltine for campaigning for a single currency.

The Pro Euro Conservative Party, which will contest all 84 seats in next month's European Parliament elections, declared that they were "about the future of the Conservative Party."

John Stevens, a former Tory Euro MP and a founder of the rebel party, said: "We find it incredible that in five short years the party which was once the major pro-European force in British politics has become little more than a campaigning organisation for Eurosceptism. The time has come for pro-Europeans to take a stand against this suicidal process."

Mr Stevens said the new party, which wants Britain to join the single currency as soon as possible, would give a voice to disillusioned centre- ground voters. "This is their chance to protest against the hijacking of their party," he said.

Although leading Tory Europhiles, such as Mr Heseltine, are expected to distance themselves from the breakaway party, Brendan Donnelly, its co-founder, said: "The fact is that we are standing on his policies, we are standing on Ken Clarke's policy."

Yesterday it emerged that Mr Heseltine may decide to stay on as an MP after the general election to campaign for Britain to join the euro. He had been expected to retire as MP for Henley, where some Tory activists have been pressing him to stand down.

Mr Portillo fuelled the Tory debate by suggesting that Mr Heseltine's constant criticism of Mr Hague's policy had made him "irrelevant". Speaking on GMTV's Sunday Morning programme, Mr Portillo admitted Mr Heseltine was "a very big beast of the jungle" but said he should "knuckle under" and accept the Tory party's decision to rule out joining the euro in this Parliament and the next.

Mr Portillo praised Mr Hague for making the single currency a key issue in the Tory campaign. But he confirmed that he would turn down any approach by Mr Hague to become his party chairman, saying he was "enjoying my independence at the moment".

Despite the potential threat from the rebel party, Mr Hague is sticking to his Eurosceptic guns. The Tory manifesto for next month's elections will attack Labour and the Liberal Democrats for "scrapping the pound regardless of the economic and political consequences". Mr Hague will warn that signing up to the single currency would involve "huge risks" for Britain.

But in an election broadcast tonight, Labour will claim it "is setting the agenda for reform in Europe while the Tories are divided and extreme".

The Liberal Democrats will unveil their manifesto for the 10 June Euro elections today, promising a Europe that is "democratic not bureaucratic, decentralised not dictatorial". The Tories will follow tomorrow and Labour on Wednesday.

Margaret Beckett, the Commons leader and Labour's campaign co-ordinator, said the party would "ruthlessly expose the contrast between the strong leadership offered by Tony Blair and the weakness of the Tories' lame- duck loser, William Hague".

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
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
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup