Hague makes euro the big election issue

THE EURO

THE Conservative Party played its "euro card" yesterday by declaring it would make the single currency a key issue in the campaign for next month's European Parliament elections.

The move risks a backlash from pro-EU Tories, led by Kenneth Clarke, who had hoped that William Hague would play down the single currency issue during the campaign to avoid displaying the party's divisions on the issue.

Andrew Lansley, a Tory vice-chairman, said yesterday the euro would be a "significant factor" in the elections and the party would pursue vigorously its policy of ruling out British membership in this Parliament and the next.

"There are a significant number of people who may in other circumstances see themselves as Labour or Liberal Democrat voters, but who agree with Conservative policies on Europe and the single currency in particular," he told a press conference.

Mr Lansley dismissed the newly formed Pro Euro Conservative Party, led by the rebel former Tory Euro MPs John Stevens and Brendan Donnelly, as "a party of the disgruntled and disaffected". He said: "The number who vote for the Pro Euro Conservatives will be vanishingly small, compared with the numbers from other parties who will come to the Conservative Party."

The Pro Euro Tories, officially launched in London tomorrow, plan to contest every seat in every region of Britain at the election, putting up 84 candidates in all. They include Sir Anthony Meyer, the former Tory MP, whose "stalking horse" challenge to Margaret Thatcher in 1989 paved the way for Michael Heseltine to run for the leadership a year later, forcing her resignation.

The party's manifesto calls for early British membership of the single currency and argues that millions of voters would be deprived of a voice in the elections without it. Its leaders claim they could capture 10 per cent of the Tory vote.

"The extremism that underlies the Tory policy on Europe is alienating many Conservatives," said Mr Donnelly. He attacked Mr Hague's keynote speech on Thursday, calling for EU countries to have an opt-out from new EU laws.

Mr Donnelly said the speech was "a gigantic step" towards confirming his suspicions that Mr Hague would like Britain to pull out of Europe. Mr Stevens said: "It is obvious that William Hague is trying to raise the temperature in his anti- European rhetoric. He clearly hopes to appeal to potential voters from the defunct Referendum Party. He is much more likely to prove to pro-European Conservatives he is incapable of representing them."

Privately, some Tory MPs are worried that the party could be hit by a "pincer movement" of the Pro Euro Tories on the one hand, and the UK Independence Party, which wants to leave the EU, on the other.

Yesterday, the Tories warned that the British National Party might attract votes in the London region because its name would appear at the top of the lengthy ballot paper with an arrow next to it, because the parties were listed in alphabetical order.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot