It is difficult to see how the Chief Secretary could have gone beyond this general and unexceptionable proposition, since the Conservative manifesto for the European elections next year has not been written. There is every reason to believe that it will be a positive, balanced and constructive document which is acceptable to a wide span of opinion within the party.
This is perhaps an appropriate occasion to offer a general comment on the vexed question of 'federalism'. I am, of course, aware that to some politicians and commentators in this country this word means no more and no less than 'excessive centralism'. If we are clear that this is what we are talking about - as the Prime Minister has been on many occasions in the House of Commons - then, of course, the Conservative Party, unlike its opponents, is an anti- federalist party.
But it should not be forgotten that the European Community, of which Britain has been a member since 1973 - with its exclusive competences, decision-making by majority vote and supranational laws - is an essentially federal structure. Such arrangements are crucial to both the establishment and success of the Single Market.
In consequence, we should beware of using anti-federalist rhetoric that might cast doubt on our party's commitment to the European Community of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act and those parts of the Maastricht treaty to which we have already committed ourselves.
Leader, Conservatives in the
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