Retiring Renton declares for Europe

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TIM RENTON, the former Conservative Chief Whip, announced yesterday that he was standing down as an MP at the next election - and issued a ringing call to the Tory party not to forsake its Europeanism, writes Don Macintyre.

Mr Renton, the Mid-Sussex MP for 22 years, reaffirmed 'the need, for the sake of employment and economic growth in Britain, for us to be firmly and enthusiastically at the centre of European thinking and planning'.

In a clear reference to the dramatic fringe speech by Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor, at the Tory conference in Bournemouth last week, Mr Renton said he hoped that the 'clear water' between the Tories and Labour would not be 'muddied by stupid calls for Britain to leave the European Union'.

Mr Renton said he was convinced that Britain would be able to produce 'positive proposals' for the 1996 inter-governmental conference that would 'command the support of most of our European partners', that would 'reflect the long-term interests of the Conservative Party' and be 'good for Britain and good for the EU'.

Mr Renton, appointed as Chief Whip by Baroness Thatcher, nevertheless directed the whips' office to maintain official neutrality during the leadership battle which brought her down in 1990. He has just published a novel, The Dangerous Edge, and is near to completing a second. He also plans, eventually, to write a history of whipping in the political parties.

(Photograph omitted)