Diplomats' anger at Tory plans to create right-wing EU group

Joining forces with homophobic Polish MEPs will leave Britain isolated and ridiculed, officials warn

David Cameron has caused dismay at the highest levels in the Foreign Office over plans for a hardline European policy under a Tory government,
The Independent on Sunday has learnt.

The Conservative leader risks leaving Britain isolated and ridiculed, say diplomats, if he pushes ahead with plans to form a new Eurosceptic group in the Strasbourg parliament which would include a party that warns homosexuality will trigger the "downfall of civilisation".

Officials are also alarmed that the shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has told Sir Peter Ricketts, the Foreign Office's permanent secretary, to prepare for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as the first act of a Tory government. Mr Cameron has not ruled out calling a referendum even if all EU countries ratify the treaty, a move that has caused particular consternation at the Foreign Office.

Mr Hague confirmed last week that the Tories would leave the European People's Party (EPP), the grouping that includes the parties of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, after the European elections on 4 June.

He said formal talks on an "amicable separation" had been completed and that he was confident that at least 20 MEPs representing parties from seven countries – the minimum required to qualify for funding for a new grouping – would sign up, claiming that the Conservatives had "lots of partners in the wings".

The group will include the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), which has banned gay rights marches for being "sexually obscene". Its co-founder Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said that homosexuality will cause the "downfall of civilisation". Another PiS MP has warned that Barack Obama's victory would mean "the end of the civilisation of the white man". Mr Hague has also held talks with a Latvian hardline nationalist party.

A senior diplomat warned that Mr Cameron must "remain engaged" in Europe and expressed dismay over the treaty and the new grouping.

And the former Europe minister Denis MacShane said: "Tory isolationism is now creating a network of unpleasant, ugly, anti-European parties grouped around Cameron and Hague, but surely they should draw the line at links with gay-bashing homophobes."

Although Tory MEPs are concerned, Mr Cameron's pledge to leave the EPP, made during his 2005 leadership campaign, won over the right wing of his party, and many believe it secured his victory over David Davis. As many as 40 MPs, one in five of all Tory MPs, backed Mr Cameron because of the promise. Although a revolt, if he reneged on the pledge, is unlikely with the Tories so close to power, the U-turn would cause an unnecessary risk, say his aides.

A Conservative spokesman said: "When we form our new group, we will continue to be energetically engaged with our European partners on issues such as global competitiveness, the environment and on global poverty. As for the Lisbon Treaty, the Government promised to give people a say on the EU constitution and we will continue to pressure them to change their mind again and keep that promise. It is a matter of faith and trust."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power