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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK

UK Politics

Hague rallies troops in Wales over Europe

WIlliam Hague addresses Welsh Tories on Europe

William Hague has attempted to shrug off his party's internal woes with an upbeat launch of the Tories Euro campaign in Wales.

The Conservatives will be hoping to build on their modest gains at the Welsh Assembly elections earlier this month, where they re-emerged from exile with nine seats.

Ironically, having campaigned against devolution - after losing their few Westminster seats in Wales at the 1997 General Election - the Tories once again have a small power base to work from in the Assembly.

Mr Hague focused his campaign visit to south Wales on the Tory slogan of "In Europe, Not Run by Europe", following a bold route towards the elections on June 10.

The Conservative leader told Welsh party members that he wanted to see British businesses competing for trade in Europe on an even footing, free of Euro red tape.

"I want to see a European Union that really makes sure our businesses can compete on fair terms in France, Germany and Italy without all the little obstacles and regulatory problems that are put in their paths.

"That is what the European Union was meant to be about."

Mr Hague said he was getting a picture that people did not wish Britain to be run by European officials.

"Everywhere I go in Wales, I can feel the determination of people not to allow their country to be taken over by European institutions.

"In these elections, it is the Conservatives who are on the political offensive."

The Tories number one Euro candidate in Wales, Jonathan Evans, repeated Mr Hague's words of caution.

"The message that we have is that we want to be in Europe, but at the same time we do not want to be run by Europe," said Mr Evans.

"I believe in standing up for Britain's interests in Europe."

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