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Tim Farron writes: The Tories have become UKIP-lite on Europe

May 7, 2014 10:05 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

With just two weeks until voters go to the polls in the European elections, the Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up to UKIP and fighting to keep Britain in the EU.

Writing in the Huffington Post today, Liberal Democrat Party President Tim Farron brands Eurosceptics as "UKIP-lite" on Europe.

In the article Tim makes the case for Britain's place in the EU and why Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep Britain IN.


In the European elections our country faces a stark choice between those arguing to stay in Europe and those who want to leave. Liberal Democrats are taking a stand as the only party that genuinely wants to keep Britain in the EU and defend British jobs. And we all know what UKIP think: they recklessly want to leave the EU and jeopardise livelihoods around the country.

However, with fifteen days till polling day, we still don't know what Labour or the Tories think about the EU - are they in or out? Labour didn't even mention Europe in their party political broadcast and Ed Miliband launched their campaign by talking about national politics. It's difficult to know if they are too scared or vacuous to give a position on Europe but it is clear they aren't offering voters anything in these elections.

The Tories' failure to defend Britain's EU membership is of a different nature altogether. They seem to have gone quiet in order to hide what we already know - most Conservatives want to leave the EU. They simply don't care that it supports British jobs, helps fight climate change and makes our streets safer. They aren't interested in the huge benefits the EU gives consumers through cheaper shopping bills, travel and mobile phone roaming, and they are certainly not interested in projecting British influence and values around the world through the EU amplifier. They want to bury their heads in the sand and return to an idealised 1950s Britain that never existed or, if it did, only for the privileged few.

We aren't just talking here about a fringe faction within the Conservative Party. Of course there are those who never stop "banging on about Europe" such as Bill Cash or John Redwood, but it goes much further than that. Many, if not most, senior Conservatives are ready to quit the EU. Take Boris Johnson, he said, "we should be prepared to pull out. That goes without saying." Or Education Secretary Michael Gove and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond who said they would vote to leave if a referendum were held today. Or the new Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, who stated that we shouldn't be afraid to leave the EU. The list goes on.

The truth is that most of David Cameron's party do not want to reform the EU and they don't care about his renegotiation. They have already made up their mind that they want to leave and pull Britain out. They are UKIP-lite.

Therefore, if you believe that being in Europe is crucial for creating a stronger economy and future jobs for our kids, the Conservatives are a wasted vote. If you believe that it is in our national interest to work with our neighbours to address climate change, organised crime and to defend human rights around the globe, only the Liberal Democrats are making this case in the European elections.