While many Europhiles in the UK and leaders around Europe uneasily greeted the confirmation of well-known Eurosceptic William Hague’s appointment to the Foreign Office, it seems the pro-European Liberal Democrats have managed a major concession.On its frontpage today, the Guardian
says the appointment of David Lidington
, pictured left, to the symbolically important post of Europe minister, one of the most senior jobs outside of the cabinet, “signals the end of more than a decade of Tory hostility to Europe
In a move that they believe will be welcomed in chancelleries across the continent, the appointment of the former Foreign Office adviser Lidington could be interpreted as a sign of the former MEP Nick Clegg’s influence over David Cameron since he takes up the job earmarked for Mark Francois
who was the Eurosceptic shadow Europe minister.
It was Mr Francois, ironically with a French-originating surname, who was instrumental in orchestrating the Conservative MEP’s controversial split from the main centre-right EPP group in the European Parliament
to found the new ECR group on the sidelines.
Lidington will hopefully seek to balance the fiercely Eurosceptic Hague, who, in 2001 ran a strongly nationalistic election campaign as Tory leader in which he warned that Britain was turning into a "foreign land
But Lidington, who according to the Guardian
is seen as “a Euro-realist rather than a pro-European
”, does has strong relations with Mr Hague after having served as his parliamentary aide for the first two years of his leadership of the Conservative Party.
However, one look at his voting record shows that he has consistently voted very strongly against EU integration.
Welcoming Mr Cameron into office in a manner only French President Nicolas Sarkozy
could do, he made himself abundantly clear that he hoped to open a new chapter with the Tories when he said he looked forward to "strengthening the very close cooperation and exceptional ties woven between our two countries