TORY SPLIT ON EU IS NOT A HEALTHY STATE OF AFFAIRS

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

CHRISTO­PHER CLAY­TON Chesham

CHERYL Gillan MP re­vealed the poi­sonous at­mos­phere within the Con­ser­va­tive par­lia­men­tary party in her con­tri­bu­tion to the EU de­bate in last week’s edi­tion of the Buck­ing­hamshire Ex­am­iner, in which she said there had been “much com­men­tary on lead­er­ship bids within the Con­ser­va­tives and pun­ish­ments for hold­ing a dif­fer­ent opin­ion from the cur­rent lead­er­ship or mi­nor re­wards for com­pli­ance have be­come com­mon­place.”

That, from some­one who is di­rectly in­volved in what she writes about, does not sound like a healthy state of affairs.

It ap­pears that the Con­ser­va­tive Party is at war with it­self on the Euro­pean is­sue.

Mrs Gillan de­scribes her­self as “fiercely Bri­tish.”

Pre­sum­ably she would al­low oth­ers to be “fiercely Ger­man,” “fiercely French,” “fiercely Ital­ian” and so on.

The 20th cen­tury demon­strated the dan­ger of com­pet­ing na­tion­alisms and the tragedy that could re­sult.

The Schu­man Dec­la­ra­tion and the Treaty of Rome (the found­ing agree­ments of the Euro­pean Union, in which the Bri­tish could and should have had a hand) were born out of a de­sire for an an­ti­dote to such de­struc­tion.

Do­minic Grieve shows a much more ju­di­cious ap­proach in stat­ing that “the cur­rent de­bate is be­ing con­ducted on a false view of na­tional in­ter­est. The lessons of our his­tory are that the well­be­ing of our neigh­bours on the Con­ti­nent of Europe is crit­i­cal to our own.”

Vot­ers in the Chesham and Amer­sham con­stituency are sub­ject to the lo­cal govern­ment of three lev­els of coun­cil, town, dis­trict and county, all of them dom­i­nated by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Con­ser­va­tive Party.

Yet it is clear that the Con­ser­va­tive Party is not one party but two, with the sec­tion to which Mrs Gillan be­longs ap­par­ently iden­ti­cal to UKIP on what is prob­a­bly the most sig­nif­i­cant is­sue to face this coun­try in re­cent times, namely whether to con­tinue our mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union or not.

And it is not just a mat­ter of sig­nif­i­cance for this coun­try but for the other EU mem­bers and for the global po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, as the re­cent com­ments of the US President have shown.

There are many peo­ple who nor­mally vote Con­ser­va­tive who would not wish to vote for any rep­re­sen­ta­tive who is in­dis­tin­guish­able from Nigel Farage on this is­sue.

It is prob­a­ble that the re­verse sit­u­a­tion is true too.

It is time we knew which “tribe” the lo­cal Con­ser­va­tive Coun­cil­lors be­long to.

Isn’t it about time the Coun­cil­lors who rep­re­sent the peo­ple of this area at lo­cal level fol­lowed the ex­am­ple of the lo­cal MPs and re­vealed their po­si­tion on this im­por­tant and press­ing is­sue?

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