A COMMENTARY AFTER WILLIAM HAGUE'S FONTAINEBLEAU SPEECH
Last year William Hague raised patriotic hopes by getting his party to vote against the Amsterdam Treaty, although not in sufficient numbers to stop the Government.
He also spoke on the disadvantages of the Single Currency to the CBI, and ruled out Britain joining for at least ten years if he was elected.
Swinging One Way..
But 1998 has seen a different William Hague. He attacked John Redwood MP for complaining about Chancellor Kohl being given Freedom of the City of London. Chancellor Kohl has been one of the main
backers of the Single Currency.
Mr Hague also diluted his opposition to joining the Single Currency to just 'the foreseeable future'. This has been to bond with the pro-EU wing of his party, typified by Kenneth Clarke MP, who is a Vice President of a federalist group, the European Movement, which campaigns very enthusiastically for a single Currency.
The Daily Telegraph (15.4.98) revealed how pally Clarke and Hague were becoming.
Strangely for a 'Eurosceptic', Mr Hague became a President of the London Europe Society (LES), which is an associated group of the European Movement.
It exists to advance the cause of European union and boasts how it was instrumental in getting a 'Yes' vote in the 1975 referendum. Mr Hague enjoys the company of Ted Heath and Ernest Wistrich, author of "United States of Europe", who are both Euro-fanatics. Mr Wistrich is on record as saying that the EC might be a blueprint for a World Government.
It claims "the part that Britain plays in the adoption of a single currency, Economic and Monetary Union.... ....is fundamental to our future place and role in the world".
and then the other?...
The Bad News
Mr Hague voted for the Maastricht Treaties that set up the EU political union as a goal. Not a complaint was heard from him at the time, although several of his colleagues spoke out. The Treaties also set up a commitment to monetary union, including eventually the goal of a single currency, both of which would be "irreversible" and controlled by unelected bankers. Under the small print, Britain is legally bound to abide by these goals and do nothing to oppose their achievement!
Far from being in favour of withdrawal, Mr Hague is openly a firm supporter of the EU. He refuses to rule out joining the Single Currency as a matter of principle. Contrast his instant attack on John Redwood with his lack of rebuttal to his pal Kenneth Clarke, who claimed that the Tories would abandon their opposition to the Single Currency after the Euro became established. (Sunday Telegraph, 21.6.98).
His contradictory statements can be explained by the need to appease different bodies of opinion within his party. Rather like John Major, who managed to sit on the fence facing both directions. But when it came to the crunch, Mr Major forced through 'Maastricht' against public and parliamentary opposition. Despite posing as 'the greatest Eurosceptic of all', John Major was also a President of the London Europe Society. His rejection by a disenchanted public was truly catastrophic.
Will history repeat itself, and will William become history?
An Amazing Postscript to the INSEAD Speech
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph (24.5.98), Christopher Booker noted that peers recently had a chance to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Government.
The Government faced a vote on giving more powers to the President of the European Commission at the expense of national governments. When it became clear that it was likely to lose, enough Conservative peers were advised by their leadership to go home to ensure that the Government was saved from any embarrassment. One senior Europhile Tory was even heard apologising to a minister that so many members of his party were still in the opposition lobby.
...and there's worse to come?
On 1 June 1998, Mr Hague appointed Quentin Davies MP (of the federalist European Movement) as a shadow social security spokesman. He also reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet. He made Francis Maude MP - who shamefully signed the Maastricht Treaty - Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. In spite of Maude and Hague's attack on Labour on the economics of the single currency, both basically shadow Blair's "wait and see" policy. Neither rule out joining the Euro as a point of principle, although both know full well that there is no escape route if it fails.
Appointed as Shadow Lord Chancellor, in charge of our legal system, was Lord Kingsland, formerly known as Sir Christopher Prout MEP, leader of the Conservatives (sic) in the European Parliament. Click to see 'Quotes' The excuse of only having a hundred or so MPs to choose from cannot hold for the appointment of the Shadow Lord Chancellor.
This follows moves by local Conservatives to have mostly pro-EU candidates
shortlisted for the 1999 European Parliament elections. Mr Hague's advice to
select a spectrum of candidates went unheeded, and there were allegations of malpractice. (Sunday Times, 31.5.98)
Late last year, the Tories adopted former Whip (and member of the pro-EU Action Centre for Europe) Jacqui Lait as their successful candidate at the Beckenham by-election.
Dim on Dimbleby
On 4 October 1998, on TV's Dimbleby programme, William Hague showed just how limited his knowledge of EU affairs is:
"Labour has adopted the Working Time Directive which means costs for Britain"
- FACT The Directive became applicable in 1996 and was possible by powers signed away by previous Tory Governments - on health & safety, not Social Chapter legislation.
"We want to be in Europe but not taken over by it"
- FACT The debacle of Britain being told to adopt the Directive against John Major's futile protests shows how much being "in Europe" means being taken over by it.
"We want to be shown that the Single Currency can work - without a democratic deficit"> (slightly abridged)
- DID William Hague forget what his speech-writer penned for Fontainebleau? Did he read the Maastricht Treaty he voted for either? Quite a few Tories have written asking precisely what he meant!
The Sunday Times (4.10.98) pointed out that "...Britain could join the single currency in 7-8 years time even if the Tories are returned to power - according to Shadow Chancellor Francis Maude.... ...Euro enthusiasts said Maude's remarks indicated that if the Tories won the next election they would spend their first term preparing to join the single currency in a possible second term".
FACT - As stated before, Britain is bound not to oppose anything in the EU Treaties. (CF 'Maastricht' Articles 3, 5, 173, 176). Under a Tory government, preparations to join the Euro would carry on just as they did under John Major in spite of the fact that 84% of his party voting held out against entry.
This page compiled: 17 October 1998
link updated 23 February 2000