Leading article: Statement of regret

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Whatever the merits, or otherwise, of the Conservative Party's pledge to extricate itself from the embrace of the centre-right European People's Party – and this newspaper has been consistently critical of the decision – it is a move the Tories are entitled to make.

So what, therefore, can be the justification for the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, expressing his "regret" over the move yesterday?

It is, to be blunt, none of Mr Barroso's business how a British party aligns itself in the European parliament. The fact that Mr Barroso made his politicised intervention after emerging from a meeting with Gordon Brown makes it all the more distasteful.

This sort of unwarranted interference merely feeds that suspicion that the European Union is a conspiracy of arrogant and unaccountable elites. Let the Commission president think more carefully before opening his mouth in future.

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