Boris Johnson knows how to play the Eurosceptic press

Boris Johnson

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson made his latest thinly veiled bid for the Tory leadership, outlining his own distinctive vision of Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of David Cameron’s crucial, defining speech on Europe later this month. He called for Britain’s EU membership to be “boiled down to the single market”, scrapping the social chapter and other pesky regulations from Brussels. He then went on to suggest that Britain should join the “outer tier” of Europe along with Switzerland and Norway, while maintaining an active role in shaping single market legislation.

Never mind that neither Norway nor Switzerland’s relationship with the EU is purely based on free trade, never mind that minimum social and employment standards are an inextricable part of the single market: Johnson knows how to play the keys of Eurosceptic press like a concert pianist. This may just be because when it comes to British Euroscepticism, Boris Johnson invented the Steinway. Continue reading

Theresa May’s opt-out mess

Stephen Booth of Open Europe was alone in defending the UK government’s plan to opt out of 130 EU police and judicial measure at a Law Society debate last week. Even he pointed to the list of 60 measures of ‘practical value’ to the UK compiled by prominent Tory eurosceptic Dominic Raab. These include the instruments governing Europol, Eurojust and even the oft-maligned European Arrest Warrant.

Professor John Spencer, author of a Cambridge University paper on this topic, hit back at some of the arguments being made in favour of the opt out. He first pointed to the letter to the Telegraphin January 2012, signed by 102 Tory MPs and calling for a mass opt out. Of the three measures mentioned in the letter – the European Public Prosecutor, the European Investigation Order and the European Arrest Warrant – only the third is even covered by the opt out. Continue reading

Young, Bright and on the Right – The Tale of Two Tragic Tories

Young, Bright and on the Right,’ the story of two aspiring young Tories at Oxford and Cambridge, definitely made for some entertaining television. Joe and Chris inspire a mixture of loathing, pity and bewilderment as they struggle to navigate the elitist world of Oxbridge Conservative politics, which is characterised by ridiculous outfits, port, cheese and the odd bout of extreme racism. Continue reading