When Britain joined the Single Market it was on terms set by Margaret Thatcher. It is therefore fitting that the man who developed the concept of the Single Market that Thatcher sold to the other European leaders will speak at the Stop Brexit Rally in Manchester this Sunday.
Dirk Hazell is the leader of the UK EPP and a true British European, who sacrificed his own future in the Tory Party for Britain’s future in Europe. His decision to speak at the Stop Brexit rally puts a renewed focus on several highly contentious issues within the Conservative Party, which is holding its annual conference in the same part of the city.
Hazell formed the UK EPP (UK European People’s Party) after the Conservative party pulled out of the EPP group in 2009, to retain the good ties that the party had built to leading moderate centre-right parties in the EU and to fly the flag for centre-right pro-Europeans here.
The Conservative party’s withdrawal from the EPP which still is the most powerful group in the European parliament has since been widely recognised as “strategically unwise”, because it weakened the influence that the party had hitherto enjoyed in the EU. The ECR grouping, which Cameron formed, was not just ineffective due to the lack of clout of its coalition partners, but also became embarrassing as the partners included parties, such as the AFD in Germany, whose values were clearly incompatible with traditional conservative ideas.
Hazell believes that “Conservatives won elections when they aimed to govern in the future interest of everyone in Britain, but Brexit would enrich just a few billionaires and their hangers-on.”
“Conservatives should deliver prosperity and good public services for all, consumer and environmental protection, wide democratic freedoms under the rule of law, security and Britain’s influence in the wider world. In contrast, Brexit is underpinned by an alien hard right ideology undermining all these objectives: true Conservatives should unite to Stop Brexit before more damage is done to Britain’s future.”
As former chairman of the London Region Conservatives and a former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Forum of the Conservative Party, his opinions still carry weight among many members of the party who disapprove of his former party’s increasing lurch to hard-edged isolation.
Let’s hope he encourages others to speak out.