Readers may recall the recent exchange of views and comments on this blog between AM, readers and arch Tory ‘Eurosceptic’ Roger Helmer. In his reply to reader comments Helmer told commenter ‘Jones’:
‘Many of the commentators have a point. But I’m not sure that they have a strategy.’
The exchange has started to raise questions about the nature of Euroscepticism among Conservative politicians, belonging as they do to a party that claims to be against further integration yet whose MPs and MEPs consistently vote in favour of measures that enable it.
So it was that a few days ago, back on Helmer’s own website, his comment about a strategy was raised by commenter ‘Dead Dog Bounce’, who asked Helmer about his strategy for withdrawing Britain from the EU. The comment and Helmer’s response are shown below:
So there we have it. Roger Helmer’s strategy for enabling Britain to exit the EU is… a tribal faith that a government led by his Tory friends might be more likely to see sense on Europe than any other party.
At this point it is appropriate to give way to Dr Richard North of EU Referendum who reminds us of the Tory standpoint on this country’s involvement in Europe:
The Tories have a vision of a political Europe which has not changed in over seventy years when it was articulated to the War Cabinet on 20 July 1940 by Duff Cooper, the then information minister.
The bones of this was a “united Europe”, a Europe “united by goodwill and in friendship, not by force and in terrors, a Europe based upon some federal system … a Europe in which armaments will be pooled and trade barriers will be broken down, and in which each nation will be allowed to conduct its own affairs in its own way with the same kind of freedom as each state in the American Union possesses”.
And of course, sitting above the States in the American Union is a powerful federal government with a President at its head. No matter. Let’s focus on facts. The Conservative Party was in government and signed the Single European Act in 1987. The Conservatives were in government and signed the Treaty on European Union in Maastricht in 1992. These were the treaties that made it possible for Labour to subsequently sign the treaties of Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon.
Having opposed the Lisbon Treaty the Conservatives soared in the opinion polls. After David Cameron and William Hague had long said if the treaty was signed by Labour they ‘would not let matters rest there’ they reversed their position and their poll lead dropped, resulting in the dismal coagulation between the conservatives in name only and the Lib Dems. Matters have not only been allowed to rest there, the Conservatives have accelerated the rate at which powers are being transferred to Brussels – a point made by Helmer himself.
Despite the absence of any strategy to achieve Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Helmer nonetheless continues to state his position is that this country would be better off out of the EU. His comments on that are indisputable. However his support of faux Eurosceptics – the Europlastics – clearly contradicts his stated position. It defies reason that Helmer can hold the view he professes while endorsing the position of people who by their voting record demonstrate continued support for the EU project and who only wish to see reform, not withdrawal. It’s enough to make one wonder if Helmer’s lack of strategy is itself part of an altogether different strategy.
Against the backdrop of this reality the great man clings like a limpet to the trappings of Toryism, licensed to articulate some dissent now and again as long as he doesn’t go too far and stirs up anything like genuine opposition to Tory Europhilia. This needs to be made clear to all genuine Eurosceptics who labour under the misapprehension that most Tories who claim to be Eurosceptic really are. The evidence shows the overwhelming majority of Conservative ‘Eurosceptics’ are nothing of the sort.