Frinton sums up Tory dilemma

RATHER tongue in cheek, I suggested a few weeks back that European federalists might soon be planning to have just one EU soccer team competing in future European championships.

RATHER tongue in cheek, I suggested a few weeks back that European federalists might soon be planning to have just one EU soccer team competing in future European championships.

Little did I realise that Romano Prodi, outgoing President of the European Commission, would trump that be suggesting Olympic athletes from the 25 member states should compete under the EU flag at the next Games in Beijing.

Not if the UK Independence Party has its way. East of England Euro MP Jeffrey Titford fumed: "This is a blatant attempt by the EU to hijack the Olympics. It is a source of immense pride to compete for your country.  Nobody is going to feel the same pride in representing a country called 'Europe.'"

Mr Titford added: "This is yet more evidence of the EU's long-term objective of becoming a nation state in its own right.  The EU Constitution, if it is adopted, would formalise the European Union's identity as a nation state and it would be able to demand recognition as such from the International Olympic Committee."


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Labour and Liberal Democrats will probably dismiss Mr Titford's outburst as hysterical and tell him to take a cold shower and lie down. But the more the Eurofederalists in Brussels talk up the blue and gold EU flag, the more it ferments anti-EU sentiments throughout Britain.

Prodi's remarks are so self-defeating that I can't work out why he made them. It's hardly the way to ensure Britain votes `yes' vote in the upcoming referendum on the European Constitution.

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What really puzzles me is why the so-called Eurosceptic Tories left the running on this issue to UKIP.

Perhaps the answer is to be found in Frinton-on-Sea, home town of Mr Titford. Frinton is famous for revelling in its quintessential "land that time forgot" Britishness. But even amid this Crown Imperial tranquility, officialdom seems to have succumbed to the advance of the European federalists.

I spotted this sign on the Greensward: nearest toilets, 1,380 metres. Such enthusiasm for Europe's metrication from the local Tory council sums up the personality split in the Conservative Party over Europe.

Tories claim to be Eurosceptics but can't bring themselves to adopt a robust anti-Brussels line. They prefer instead the disingenuous approach of pretending to play a full part in Europe, while actually standing on the sidelines and watching the rest of the EU prosper.

With Labour still dithering on referendums on the single currency and the Constitution, there are only two parties in Britain whose policies have any credibility: UKIP, which wants to pull out of the EU, and the Liberal Democrats who are federalists, although don't own up to the fact at election time.

Sooner rather than later this country has to make up its mind on Europe. But until Tony Blair commits his Government to a policy of Euro-enthusiasm and starts making the case for the EU, the desire of the British people to have nothing more to do with an organisation which they openly despise will grow and grow.

 

 

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