Michael Howard puts Britain first

Contributed by admin on Jun 02, 2004 - 09:13 AM

Folkestone and Hythe  MP and Tory Leader Michael Howard has appealed to UK voters to rally behind the Conservative vision of Europe - which he declared "puts Britain first".

Rejecting the rival alternatives offered by Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and UKIP as "extremist", he insisted that o­nly the Conservatives represent the mainstream majority concerned about the growing power of the EU.

And delivering a keynote election campaign speech in Southampton, Mr Howard declared: "In Britain, we face a clear choice. At o­ne extreme there are the candidates from the UK Independence Party. They represent a party that wants to pull out of the European Union altogether. They have frequently failed to vote in the European Parliament o­n issues that are vital to Britain.

"At the other extreme are Labour and the Liberal Democrats - who want to transfer even more from Britain to Brussels, setting Europe o­n the path to a single European State."

Instead, the Conservatives were more prepared to stand up for Britain's interests in Europe. "We put Britain first. And we reject moves towards a single European state. We want now, what we have always wanted - a Europe that creates jobs, not regulations, a Europe that is prosperous, not declining; a Europe that is fit for the global challenges of the twenty-first century; a modern Europe that echoes the aspirations of its peoples," he explained.

Mr Howard said the Conservatives vision was for a flexible Europe, leaving individual countries free to integrate more closely if they want to, without forcing others to follow. "We should look at taking back powers from Europe that would be better exercised at a national level here in Britain - and in other countries too," he said.

Mr Howard stressed: "Only the Conservative Party can deliver this Europe. Not the Labour Party. Not the Lib-Dems. No other party. So if you share our vision for Europe, don't waste your vote. The o­nly effective vote is a vote for the Conservatives."