'As long as I'm PM, Britain will stay firmly in Europe's mainstream': Brown - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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'As long as I'm PM, Britain will stay firmly in Europe's mainstream': Brown

Monday, 22 February 2010
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has used a speech attended by the leaders of European countries to attack the Conservative Party and reaffirm his commitment to keep Britain at the heart of the European Union.

Addressing the Progressive Governance Conference on Friday, attended by the leaders of Spain, Greece and Norway amongst others, Mr Brown said "So let me reassure you today; as long as I remain Prime Minister, Britain will stay firmly in Europe’s mainstream, never in its backwaters, and we will resist the attempts of the Conservatives to pull Britain into isolation and irrelevance."

This was a reference to the decision last year of Conservative leader David Cameron to withdraw his party's MEPs from the European People's Party (EPP) grouping at the European Parliament, which is still the biggest party in the House with 265 MEPs.

Instead, they have formed a new group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which has surrendered the Conservatives' voice at the heart of a powerful group in favour of a grouping on the sidelines.

"The obsession of the Tories with narrow nationalism is totally out of tune with the modern world," Mr Brown continued, "because people today know that no one country can solve terrorism or conflict or poverty or climate change on their own, that there is no firm line separating what happens 'over there' from what happens 'over here'."

Reaffirming his pledge for greater EU interaction if he remained in charge in June, Mr Brown acknowledged that "We [Britain] are, of course, the true internationalists - the people who know we are stronger together than we ever could be apart."

The EU has still not been at the forefront of Mr Brown's priorities however - one notable example is when he belatedly signed the Lisbon Treaty delaying his trip to Lisbon so he could appear before a Commons select committee, which meant he missed the signing ceremony attended by all 26 other leaders of the EU member states back in December 2009.

One glance at the opinion polls within the last 12 months and you would have little trouble in predicting Labour is likely to lose the election, expected on 6th May.

Such a scenario would bring to an end 13-years of centre-left government and opening up the possibility of a changed relationship between Britain and the European Union. David Cameron has repeated expressed his dislike of the Britain's role in the EU.

Mr Brown, however, still believes he can win but polls suggest the best he can hope for is to limit the Conservatives to a result short of an overall majority, and then try to form a coalition with the centre-left Liberal Democrats, Britain's third and most pro-EU party.

In a YouGov poll published in yesterday's Sunday Times, Labour's score increased by two points to 33%, while the Tories slipped one point to 39% and the Liberal Democrats went down one point to 17%. This gap of 6% is the smallest recorded in the last 12 months.

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