Heath warns Hague to be more European and less American

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Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath today warned Conservative leader William Hague not to allow the party to become too extreme on issues such as membership of the European Union.

Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath today warned Conservative leader William Hague not to allow the party to become too extreme on issues such as membership of the European Union.

Sir Edward, speaking on GMTV's The Sunday Programme, said Mr Hague needed to take a longer-term approach to policies, instead of just reacting to issues because there could be a general election looming.

This week the Tories will launch a manifesto document in anticipation of the general election. Among the expected policies will be a commitment not to concede any more powers to Brussels.

Sir Edward said such a pledge would be "nonsense". He said: "And they expect others to go on accepting us if that is the line we take?

"When Mr Hague has his refrain about 'we want to be in Europe but not run by Europe' does that mean we take no part in running Europe? If we do not how can we be in Europe?

"If we expect other people to have us in Europe but avoid everything we do not like who is going to put up with that? Nobody."

The former Prime Minister said he was uncertain why the present Tory leader had failed to take advantage of Tony Blair's difficulties over the summer, and that he could not think of one thing that William Hague had got right over the summer.

One of the problems, he said, was the fact that Mr Hague had spent much of the time in the United States and had organisational ideas that were not always suited to British politics.

"William Hague spent five years of his earlier life working and being trained in American industry. This has given him certain fixed ideas about how you ought to organise and I do not believe they fit in very well with our political organisation," he said.

Sir Edward acknowledged that the current Shadow Cabinet was quite weak but said little could be done to rectify the situation until the team was boosted with more Tory MPs being elected to Westminster.

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