Cameron’s choice of ally in Europe makes it harder to achieve reform

Serious reform can only be delivered by building alliances with mainstream leaders in Europe.

Serious reform can only be delivered by building alliances with mainstream leaders in Europe

This week we have once again seen the unacceptable face of the Tory Party with the news (£) of new alliances with far-right parties in the European Parliament.

As Left Foot Forward reported yesterday, David Cameron’s link up with the True Finns and the Danish People’s Party means they will now be in a Group with politicians such Jussi Halla-aho, who was found guilty of inciting racial hatred for his blog posts on Islam, and the DPP’s Morten Messerschmidt, who received a 14-day suspended sentence in 2002 for racist conduct.

A Finns Party parliamentary aide has suggested that members of minority groups be obliged to wear Nazi-style identification armbands; their manifesto is equal parts homophobia, racism and xenophobia; DPP founder Pia Kjærsgaard says immigration is “not natural or welcome” and “it is essential Islam does not spread” in Denmark.

You get the picture.

And it isn’t just a Tory problem, for David Cameron’s decision to join forces with extremists makes it harder for him to achieve real reform to the EU, and risks rendering him an impotent bystander in the negotiations over the direction Europe takes following last month’s elections.

Serious reform can only be delivered by building alliances with mainstream leaders in Europe. Instead, Cameron’s Conservatives can only be found on the fringes alongside parties that in the last parliament were allies of UKIP. This is embarrassing for Cameron, but worse still, it is bad for Britain.

Just as with his original fateful decision to leave the centre-right European People’s Party grouping, to which Angela Merkel’s CDU belongs, he has isolated himself from allies in the European Union, his MEPs, now almost entirely hardline Eurosceptics, withdrawing ever further from the mainstream.

The reforms we need to European institutions to make them more effective and responsive to meet the needs of Member States, to make the EU more accountable to its citizens, cannot be achieved without major allies from other countries. Britain’s interests and influence in Europe will suffer as a result of Cameron’s decision.

Glenis Willmott MEP Labour’s leader in Europe

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