TELEGRAPH BLOGS 11.9.09
Dan Hannan MEP
Euro-sceptic MEPs hold our inaugural conference
By Daniel Hannan
The European Conservatives and Reformists have altered the dynamic of the European Parliament. For the first time, there is a sizeable Group, made up largely of governing parties, that opposes deeper integration. All of a sudden, federalists (those who want an ever deeper union of the countries of Europe- AF) find themselves dealing with an Opposition.
Last night, José Manuel Durão Barroso, the Commission President, came to ask for our support in his job reapplication, making a point of meeting the ECR before anyone else. British MEPs were able to cross-examine him at length and in detail, in a way we could never have done within the EPP (we pressed him, in particular, about this wretched proposal).
Today, we are in Prague with our Czech allies, the ODS. I spent a few moments away from the meeting to visit the Old Jewish Cemetery, which houses the remains of Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague. Rabbi Loew is credited with having built a golem: a clay mannikin that he magically brought to life. Golems, in many of the legends, begin as servants, but end up dominating or crushing their creators. I think the storytellers were trying to tell us something about how bureaucracies behave.
Our guest speaker was Mark Francois, the brilliant shadow Europe minister. Mark is the Sam Gamgee of politics: people sometimes underestimate him, but he has a quiet toughness that borders on heroism, as he displayed when setting up the ECR. He is now battling just as stoutly to ensure that we get a referendum on the European Constitution Lisbon Treaty. I know that a lot of people who comment on this blog are sceptical about the prospect of getting a vote on the treaty under the Tories. Then again, they tended to be the same people who were sceptical about the establishment of the ECR.
I am increasingly confident that Britain will get its referendum. I’m not in a position to explain why at this stage, but our hand is stronger than is generally supposed. I know this won’t do for some of my readers, but I’m afraid that, for now, you’ll just have to take my word for it.