Richard North, 03/10/2005  

Accounts of the Conservative Party conference, from diverse sources have Liam Fox declaring that the Tories should be prepared to call for the UK to leave the EU "if the price of membership is too high".

This is would-be leader Fox trying to reinforce his Eurosceptic agenda, adding at a first night fringe meeting: "I think our political weakness has been our lack of courage in defining what price we are not willing to pay for European membership." There was an intellectual dilemma, he observed, "either you believed the UK should be inside the EU or you did not."

Fox says the decisive areas are monetary policy and national security - which could deny Britain the right to remain a sovereign nation. He says he wants a Europe where countries which want to integrate further can do so but others do not have to follow.

Earlier, Ken Clarke, vice president of the European Movement (pictured right) – who obviously believes that we should be inside the EU - had warned that Europe should not decide the leadership race. Allowing the single currency to dominate the contest again could consign the party to opposition for years to come, says Clarke - clearly oblivious to the fact that no one is even arguing about the euro these days.

In his opening address to the Blackpool conference, chairperson Francis Maude told delegates they had no "God-given right to survive". He said they must change or die. "Change the way we behave, change the way we talk, so people see the Conservative Party for what it really is - a party for all Britain and all Britons," he said.

The trouble is, it seems to us, too many people already see the Conservative Party for what it really is. That is why it isn't getting elected.


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