Sarkozy makes overtures to British Conservatives

4th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

BOURNEMOUTH, England, Oct 3, 2006 (AFP) - French presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday urged British Conservative leader David Cameron to renew links between European centre-right parties.

BOURNEMOUTH, England, Oct 3, 2006 (AFP) - French presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday urged British Conservative leader David Cameron to renew links between European centre-right parties.

In a video message to the annual party conference of the Tories, who have a history of "euroscepticism", the head of France's ruling party told them their future was in Europe.

But at the conference in Bournemouth, southern England, the Conservatives spelled out their hostility to further European integration despite their willingness to build bridges with the continent.

Britain's Conservatives have long been broadly suspicious of the European Union, although Cameron is less eurosceptic than some of his predecessors.

"We need you in Europe to embody a centre-right with strong ideas," said Sarkozy, who is the French right's likely candidate in next April's presidential election.

"I would like us to work together. Give us your ideas. We will share ours with you, and together let's build new hope.

"I want to tell you my conviction that Europe needs you, the United Kingdom, and that the United Kingdom cannot be alone."

Speaking in French, Sarkozy said: "For too long the Conservative Party and the Union for a Popular Movement had stopped talking to one other. We need to talk to each other.

"Together, we have a great deal of work to do. Together, we have a big hope to embody and bring into being."

He added that Cameron, elected leader in December on a modernising platform, has a great chance to renew his party.

"We must say to our voters that we are defending the traditional ideas of our political family, but at the same time we know how to create a new style, new concepts and new ideas," he said.

However, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman William Hague said that, despite Cameron's centrist drive, hostility towards further EU integration remained a key policy.

"The British people believe that political integration has gone far enough, and so do we," he told the conference.

"So we renew this pledge: that under a Conservative government there would be no treaty changes that transfer more competences to the EU without a referendum of the British people.

"As we champion a new vision for Europe and make great friendships among its newest members, it would be extraordinary for us to turn our backs on them and myopic to advocate withdrawal.

"I am as convinced as ever that our place is to be in Europe but not run by Europe."

Hague also echoed Cameron's call for an alliance with the United States that is "solid but never slavish".

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article