There are two ways to look at William Hague’s call for more British officials in senior EU posts. You could either see this as part of a process to wield more power within the EU to provide more scope, than the current homophobic/fascist grouping (ECR) that the Tories belong to, to implement their eurosceptic policies in a bid to ‘repatriate’ Britain. Or you could see it as a sign that maybe Hague isn’t as eurosceptic as he has once made out – maybe he isn’t happy with the Tories’ segregation within Europe and the recent coalition promise of not letting any more ‘power’ pass from Parliament to Brussels until a referendum takes place. This latter scenario was effectively developed by Conservative Home.
It is rather hypocritical for Hague to call for more British representation within Europe, when his own party has joined a group that will fail to have much representation and influence as they are rightly tarnished as the preachers of hate. The Conservative’s policy seems rather confused; you can’t complain that Britain has no influence within the EU whilst also being adverse to the EU becoming a stronger union. The EU not suprising, needs officials who are positively working to make it a stronger and more efficient – there is little doubt it needs improvement, something all parties I think recognise. What the EU doesn’t need are people mindlessly trying to undermine it from within the inside.
Nevertheless, Hague’s speech may send fear down the spine of some Tories who might not like the intimate language he has used when talking about Europe and European engagement:
“Our new government’s vision for foreign affairs is this: A distinctive British foreign policy that is active in Europe and across the world; that builds up British engagement in the parts of the globe where opportunities as well as threats increasingly lie; that is at ease within a networked world and harnesses the full potential of our cultural links, and that that promotes our national interest while recognising that this cannot be narrowly or selfishly defined.”
This is rather bold move by Hague. Conclusively, I come down on the view that Hague is not advocating a eurosceptic line, well in his own mind anyway. The sort of language he is using shows to me a positive attitude towards the union and its potential – as is should be. However, when the backbench Tories get a whiff of this, I can’t see Hague’s plan of positive engagement lasting long, well as long as it takes to suck some more ‘power’ out of Europe back to Parliament. This will most likely result in Hague’s vision being used as a eurosceptic ploy to yield even more influence over Europe to then break it down.
Maybe Hauge might succeed – but with the current attitude and direction of the backbenchers, and the tensions that Europe has created for the Conservatives in the past, Hague might want to walk a steady line considering the current rocky atmospheres around the coalition alone. This however is another problem, as the LibDems partnership will make this speech even more controversial and will impede on Hague’s vision and policy implementation even further. Yet again, the Tories are presented with their ever coming sticky wicket. The FT provides a useful guide to judge Hague’s subsequent actions in line with his speech and promises.