I worked alongside Chris Heaton-Harris for ten years when we were both in the European parliament, from 1999 to 2009, so I know him extremely well. We represented the same region: the East Midlands. I can vouch for his eurosceptic credentials. You would look a long way to find a sounder man. I am delighted by his new initiative, and shall do anything I can to support it, as will a number of my colleagues.
The problem with these initiatives, of which there have been similar in the past, is that they achieve precisely nothing. Returning to the main point, what your comment does not do is account for Chris Heaton-Harris’ failure to use his position to effect any reversal of the process of EU integration. Given what you say and given the aims of this latest grouping, it seems incredible that Chris has failed to make any waves about the plans for an integrated maritime policy – if you will pardon the pun.
Surely the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy, which advocates an integrated approach to the management and governance of the oceans, seas and coasts, and fosters interaction between all sea-related policies in the EU, represents another surrender of British sovereignty and further travel along the path to ever closer Union. Yet on this subject Chris Heaton-Harris is conspicuous by his silence.
While you speak of Chris Heaton-Harris from your knowledge of him, the rest of us can only form an opinion of him – and indeed all Conservative MPs – based upon what we see. The fact is what we are seeing is a failure of Conservative MPs to arrest the transfer of powers to the EU, let alone repatriate powers from Brussels/Strasbourg. You yourself pointed out that the coalition government is transferring new powers to the EU faster than the previous Labour administration did, on the pages of the content partner of the Guardian on 20th June.
This all fits within the bigger picture, where a large proportion of the Conservative Parliamentary Party has professed to be Eurosceptic, yet they have done nothing to influence or bring pressure to bear on David Cameron or the government to honour the Conservative pledge to renegotiate powers from the EU. The failure to make a stand against the Integrated Maritime Policy fits a consistent pattern of behaviour, and like it or not Chris Heaton-Harris embodies that behaviour and his supposedly Eurosceptic credentials are without substance.
The conclusion that I and many other people have drawn, and many more people are drawing with each passing week, is that the Conservative Party cannot and must not be trusted on the EU. Further, that supposedly Eurosceptic members of the Parliamentary Party put their own interests before the nation’s interests by preferring to keep their heads down on the subject lest any intervention harms their career prospects.
p.s. It seems there are also some in Parliament who do not share your assessment Roger, as explained in Patrick O’Flynn’s column in the Express written the morning after your comment below.