So Robert Kilroy-Silk has finally left the UK Independence Party. It’s hardly a surprise – the anti-European parties are going to be prone to splits of this kind. It would be easy to say that this is because they don’t believe in cooperation and compromise, but that would be a cheap shot and I’m not sure it’s true.
The relevant point is the reason why they are not in the Tory party. If they can’t work with the rest of the Tory party, it is inevitable that they can’t work with each other, either.
For the Tory party looks more and more like a fully-fledged anti-European political party. They call for renegotiation of the European treaties (don’t we all?) but that’s a process and not an outcome. What would they want that renegotiation to achieve?
Their former leader lain Duncan Smith – the only leader elected by their membership, incidentally – wanted UK law to be superior to European law. That would mean leaving the EU altogether, having a looser relationship with the EU than even Norway has.
Not all Tories support this view: there are a few pro-European Tories left but I don’t think they have a lot of fun. Robert Jackson was one such, and he has left to join Labour because- in large part – Michael Howard’s policies would take Britain out of the EU. He’s not the only one who thinks this. Bernard Jenkin, the Tory MP for North Essex, wrote recently in The Times (on 12 January) that member of UKIP should support the Conservatives at the next election in order to get what they want.
Back to Robert Kilroy-Silk. I was on his TV show once, almost exactly ten years ago. We were talking about Europe, of course. After the show, guests on the show were invited to take a souvenir: a signed photo of the host himself. I think I was already carrying enough papers that day. And on the journey back, one of the other guests on the show with whom I was sharing the car (but not an opinion) kindly offered the view that I should be killed for being a pro-European. How charming.
This blog entry first appeared on www.yes-campaign.net. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union or of the Yes campaign.