Every five years, coinciding with the European elections, the Conservative Party enters its usual crisis of existence regarding the European Union.
Four years ago, a few months before the European elections when the Tories were then in the opposition, they decided to leave the European People's Party (EPP), the largest and most influential group in the European Parliament. Now, they take the debate a step further and propose a referendum on the UK's remaining in the EU in 2015: a labyrinth without an easy way out and unpredictable consequences for the UK and for the EU.
I wonder if Tory leaders have considered the consequences the decision to leave the EPP has had for their party in an increasingly influential European Parliament. There is no doubt that their influence in the EU parliament has fallen. The EPP is one of the most influential grouping in EU politics - now the Tories are bumping along in the fifth rank of influencers.
Yet the Tories are not yet aware of the loss of influence they have suffered in the European Parliament, and hope against hope for primary levels of power at a global level. But a UK outside the EU would lose its traditional relevance. The position isn’t rational - I’m an Anglophile, was educated in the UK: but the Tory obsession with turning the European debate into an emotional discussion rather than a rational one defeats even me.
It is for the Conservatives to decide: do they want Great Britain to be a mouse's head or a lion's tail?
Pablo Zalba Bidegain is a Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs CommitteeReuse content