Letter: Without Maastricht, Europe and the Tories will suffer

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Sir: David Howell's article on the Tory party and Maastricht rejects the parallel with the repeal of the Corn Laws; it should not, however, be forgotten that Sir Robert Peel's grim determination to make common sense prevail brought huge and lasting benefits to Britain through free trade, even if it did temporarily split the Tory party.

If the United Kingdom now fights for a purely intergovernmental structure for the European Community it will be allowing national prejudices to damage national interests. The post-Maastricht EC may well have to be a more flexible organisation than it has been hitherto; in an enlarged Community there will be some member states that accept more of the obligations, and rights, of membership than others. But a moment's reflection shows that a Community of 15, 18 or more members will be paralysed by inability to reach decisions unless there is more, rather than less, use of majority voting, and unless the supra-national institutions of the Community, the Commission and the Court, and the Parliament also, have enhanced, rather than restricted, roles.

There will indeed be scope for the Tory party to recover its unity over Europe once Maastricht is out of the way - not by trying to reduce the EC to impotence, but by ensuring that its bureaucracy is made democratically accountable, and that free enterprise and true competitiveness can flourish.

Yours faithfully,


Policy Director

European Movement - UK

London, SW3

19 April