The Conservatives and the (European) Union

It’s worth noting that, in his speech on Wednesday setting out the Conservatives’ position on the European Union following Czech ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, David Cameron put heavy emphasis on the ‘ultimate authority’ of the UK Parliament.  (It’s not quite clear to me how that squares with use of a referendum, but never mind.)  The centrality of Parliament in Conservative thinking is easily underplayed, but nothing the Tories do makes sense without appreciating it.  Its ramifications for how devolution might work are considerable, even if they’re not all immediately apparent.  As suggested below, the main one is an insistence on the superiority of the UK level over devolved institutions – a point that hasn’t always been evident hitherto.  In a nutshell: those who expect a Tory/SNP rapprochement may be in for a surprise.

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1 Comment

Filed under Conservatives, Westminster

One response to “The Conservatives and the (European) Union

  1. Though David Cameron would be very embarrassed to acknowledge it, conflicting as it does with his efforts to re-present the Conservatives in a ‘modern’ guise, the intellectual roots of his combination of domestic suspicion of genuine devolution and extreme Euro-scepticism are clear. In the context of the loss of empire, the rise of Europe and, within the UK, assertion by its small ‘nations’ and regions, J Enoch Powell was convinced that ‘Britishness’ had to be defined in terms of the ‘Mother of Parliaments’, whose ‘sovereignty’ had to be defended against all comers–including by becoming an Ulster Unionist who resisted not only Irish nationalism but also devolution for Northern Ireland.

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