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Thursday
Jun112009

Labour meltdown sends jitters across Europe

European entrepreneurs are watching London and they have the jitters following the Conservative and UK Independent Party successes in the Euro elections and the impact on the business world that a change might bring.

As minister fall like nine-pins in the wake of the MPs’ expenses debacle and the Prime Minister reshuffling his Cabinet like deck chairs on the Titanic, the Tories are moving in for the kill both in the UK and Europe. Anger is rippling across Europe – in the guise of the European Peoples Party (EPP) - as David Cameron seeks to realign the Tories with the European Conservatives and Reformists – a new Eurosceptic grouping designed to undermine the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, an international agreement signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 that would change the workings of the European Union.

The Tories were in the EPP, the largest political alliance in the European Parliament before last week’s elections.

On the strength of his newfound numbers in the European Parliament, Cameron is looking for new allies to undermine the EPP and is seeking to overturn the Treaty of Lisbon. The treaty is due to be ratified by EU member states by the end of the year and will give the European Commission more powers and a streamlines administration.

Timing is crucial. It’s alleged that EU governments are pressurising Gordon Brown to cling on to power until after an Irish referendum on the treaty in October.

They fear a resurgent Conservative party and a higher profile UK Independence Party will work to undermine the Irish referendum if they have the chance – and the Tories in particular would push for a similar referendum in the UK at the same time as a general election.

"It could be rather awkward if we had a snap election in Britain with a referendum as one of the issues," said EPP leader Wilfred Martens. "The political situation in the UK is therefore extremely important. We want to see political stability or we have the danger of opening up a debate that could jeopardise the Lisbon Treaty."

Mark Francois, the Conservative spokesman on Europe said: "The EPP are entitled to their view, but so are the British people. It is because they were promised a referendum by all three main parties at the last election and because powers ought not to be transferred from Britain to Brussels without the voters consent that we are campaigning for the British people's right to have their say."

European politicians fear that the Labour meltdown at home and in Europe could force an early general election. The likely scenario is a Conservative victory and a EU referendum buries the Lisbon Treaty before the Irish vote.

What we are witnessing are the death throes of Labour with European politicians desperately trying to administer life support to keep their own interests alive long enough for the treaty to be ratified, while the rampant Tories carve up the political landscape at home and abroad to reap the gain of their political advantage. 

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