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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 04:54 GMT 05:54 UK

UK Politics

Hurd attacks Tory vision of Europe

Lord Hurd: "Renegotiating the Treaty of Rome is frivolous"

Former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd is expected to attack his party's attitude to Europe in a speech in London on Wednesday.

On the same day that former Prime Minister John Major and former Tory party chairman Chris Patten mounted stinging attacks on William Hague, Lord Hurd will say that the Tories' vision of Europe is based on a caricature.

He will also say that Britain continues to be handicapped by the widely held image that the European Union is made up of politicians who want to create a united Europe with Brussels as a centre of power.

Lord Hurd is expected to say: "Judging from last week's speeches in Blackpool, Conservative policy on Europe is increasingly based on the caricature, not on the reality."

He is also expected to be critical of the Conservatives' policy on allowing member states being able to opt out of certain legislation.

Lord Hurd will tell the audience at Charterhouse School in London: "The Blackpool talk about renegotiating the Treaty of Rome is as frivolous now as it was when Harold Wilson tried the same manoeuvre as leader of the opposition in 1973."

Tories 'not taken seriously'

The former foreign secretary will speak the day before the prime minister is due to be among senior politicians appearing on a platform for the campaign of the pro-European pressure group Britain in Europe.

[ image: William Hague: Right to adopt wait-and-see policy]
William Hague: Right to adopt wait-and-see policy
Lord Hurd will say: "Our government and the Britain in Europe movement are right to try to create an atmosphere in this country which enables us at least to punch up to our weight in all these arguments.

"The Conservative Party will not be taken seriously if it ignores the real debate because it is too busy throwing abuse at the caricature."

On the euro, Lord Hurd will say both Mr Blair and Mr Hague are right to adopt a wait-and-see policy although they do so "with different accents".

Lord Hurd will add: "When the time comes we must judge the euro on its own merits.

"Joining the euro should be regarded as a measured step, to be decided on the balance of advantage to Britain, not as a slide which will eventually suck decisions on tax, education, the welfare state, pensions into one great European morass."

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