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Letter: Britain in Europe

Sir: There is a deeper significance in the striking letter from Lord Howe, Chris Patten and others, namely how on earth William Hague's Conservative Party can now continue to sit with the Christian Democrats of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, or present a serious platform at the next European elections.

EPP member parties have never been particularly happy with their alliance with the Conservative Party, partly because of Tory Euro-scepticism but mostly because of a perceived lack of Tory commitment to social solidarity, Third World development and corporate responsibility. Chris Patten's track record as a liberal Tory, able Minister for Overseas Development and now, one assumes, the beneficiary of insights garnered from the entrepreneurial genius of "Greater China" puts him at the forefront of Britain's "Christian Democratic" coalition, which is much more than a Tory affair.

Such a coalition would be wealthier and more rooted than the SDP could have dreamt of in 1981. Under PR for Europe, or in referendum-like mayoral elections fought on local issues, it could do well. Given its existence no real Conservative voter or European Christian Democrat politician need ever bother with Hague's "militant tendency" again.


Church Crookham, Hampshire