Letter: Tories seek entente but no alliance

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Marshall's suggestion ('Tories seek Gaullist alliance', 15 July) that any bilateral dialogue between the British Conservative Party, on the one hand, and representatives of the French RPR and UDF centre-right parties, on the other, would open up some kind of European 'second front' for the Conservative Party, may have been unintentionally misleading.

It is true that last year the British Conservative MEPs became associate members of the European People's Party Parliamentary Group, a centre-right parliamentary alliance of Christian Democratic and Conservative parties. This has proved an outstandingly successful arrangement, and is fundamental to our European Parliamentary strategy in a post-Maastricht Europe.

The British Conservative Party is not, however, a member of the European People's Party Organisation, although it enjoys excellent bilateral relations with many of its component national parties, such as the German Christian Democratic Union and the Partido Popular of Spain.

As Andrew Marshall rightly indicates, some elements of the UDF, though not the RPR, are also members of the European People's Party Organisation; and others, such as the Giscardians, are members of the EPP Parliamentary Group. It is possible that the UDF might, as it did in 1989, again fight the European elections in 1994 on a joint platform with the RPR, a party with which the British Conservative Party has long enjoyed a good relationship.

In this context, bilateral discussions between representatives of the British Conservative Party and representatives of the RPR and the UDF, far from being in conflict with our relations with the EPP Parliamentary Group, would rather flow naturally from them.




Conservatives in the European Parliament

Conservative Central Office

London, SW1

16 July