Duncan Smith tries to shed anti-EU image

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith will try to shed the Tories' image as an anti-European party today when he outlines his policies on Europe.

On a visit to Prague, he will seek to head off claims by Tony Blair that the Tories want "associate membership" of the EU - a move the Prime Minister says would result in Britain's withdrawal.

Mr Duncan Smith will say: "The Conservative Party does not want Britain to leave the EU. We want to make it work. Anyone who says differently is telling a lie." The Tory leader has played down Europe as an issue to prevent his party's divisions re-emerging but wants to go on the offensive as the debate over the EU's new constitution hots up.

Today he will say that the expansion of the EU from 15 to 25 countries next year will strengthen the need for a more "flexible" Europe and not a rigid, centralised state run from Brussels.

"We are as committed to building a New Europe of sovereign democracies as we are opposed to a United States of Europe," he will say. Renewing his demand for a referendum on the new EU governing treaty, he will insist: "A vote against the constitution is not a vote to leave the EU."

Mr Duncan Smith will also make a call for "a new Europe that focuses on the practical problems facing its many peoples, a Europe of democracies, that is intergovernmental and not supranational."