A leading Tory’s branding of the European Union as “the last gasp of an outdated ideology, a philosophy that has no place in our new world of freedom” has been welcomed by eurosceptics.
Especially as that attack came from David Cameron in 2007.
The then-Leader of the Opposition made the comments during a speech in the Czech Republic.
The speech has been largely forgotten about, but today the Tory MP who is rallying colleagues to get ready to leave the EU revealed it was those very words which inspired him to enter politics.
Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, founded the Conservatives for Britain group earlier this month, with 110 Tories already on its secret mailing list.
Speaking in Parliament today at the launch of a pamphlet written by three veteran Eurosceptic Tories, Mr Baker said: “I agreed with David Cameron so strongly that at that time, when I was very upset about the handling of the Lisbon Treaty, I joined the Conservative Party and sought election. So here I am. I am very grateful to David Cameron for inspiring me so deeply on this issue.”
David Cameron speaking in Prague in 2007
Mr Cameron may regret his inspirational speech if his renegotiations with the EU over reform do not meet with Mr Baker’s approval.
Conservatives for Britain launched with just 50 members but within days its membership more than doubled.
The group is coordinating Eurosceptic views ahead of an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership, due to be held before the end of 2017.
Writing in the Telegraph as the group was launched, Mr Baker set out the key priorities it hoped Mr Cameron would secure in any renegotiation, based on the Prime Minister’s own views.
- An end to "ever closer union",
- reduced regulation for small businesses and start-ups,
- domestic control over social and employment law,
- protection for the City,
- exemption from Eurozone intervention,
- fast-track trade deals,
- a reduced EU budget,
- greater transparency,
- migration controls for member states,
- the right for Britain to veto EU laws.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Baker said: “Conservatives for Britain will be exploring the extent to which those goals have been met in the renegotiation package and whether they are sufficient to recommend EU membership to the British people.”
Today, veteran eurosceptics Sir William Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin launched a pamphlet entitled “The UK and the EU What Must Change?” setting out their hopes in the renegotiation.
The trio focused on the UK Parliament returning as the ultimate law-making body, and conclude the pamphlet by saying: “‘At stake is whether we will live in a democratic country in future or not. We want the British people to be sovereign again. If they want to change policy, laws, taxes or spending, their will expressed in a General Election or in polls and lobbying should prevail.
"At the moment under the current treaties the UK Parliament cannot manage our borders, our welfare, our defence, our foreign policy or even all our taxes in the way the UK electorate want. That it why we need to change our relationship and restore our rights of self government.”