Merkel in veiled attack on British Conservatives

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks on refusing ‘to stretch out our hand to those who oppose the (EU) Lisbon Treaty... but … talk about enlargement’ were believed to have been directed at Britain's main opposition Conservative Party.

Berlin – German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a thinly veiled attack Sunday on Britain's eurosceptic main opposition Conservative Party, who are currently riding high in opinion polls.

"We refuse to stretch out our hand to those who oppose the (EU) Lisbon Treaty... but who at the same time talk about enlargement," Merkel said.

"Those who want more (Europe) have to cooperate," Merkel said in Berlin at a campaign meeting for European elections in June attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Merkel named no names but a French MP listening to the speech said it was clear that it was the Conservatives' leader David Cameron who was in her sights, with what he called his "disturbing" euroscepticism.

Britain has ratified the EU's reforming Lisbon Treaty but Cameron wants to hold a referendum on it if elected. At the same time he supports Turkey joining to the EU – something opposed by Merkel and Sarkozy.

The Conservatives plan to quit after the European elections the European Parliament's main centre-right grouping that includes Sarkozy's UMP party and Merkel's CDU, the European People's Party/European Democrats (EPP-ED).

"Angela Merkel is right," Sarkozy said. "With Angela Merkel we want a Europe with institutions worthy of the name."

A BPIX/Mail on Sunday poll put backing for Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party at a record low of 23 percent – 22 points behind the Conservatives. The next British general election is due before June 2010.

AFP / Expatica

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