Speech by Timothy Kirkhpoe MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, to the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your Conservative MEPs have a very simple mission in Brussels: to promote Conservative principles and fight for Britain. I am very proud of what my team do for our Party and this country in the European Parliament. And you can be confident that our Conservative MEPs are delivering for Britain.
It was the MEPs who led the campaign to ditch the European Constitution. We were helped by the French and Dutch voters who put the nails in the coffin. But even now, there are some who want to lift the lid. So, I make a pledge to you today - the MEPs will do everything in their power to bury that Constitution once and for all. Like the French and the Dutch people, we don't want it, we don't need it and, together, we can get rid of it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have also been busy attacking this discredited Labour government.
And there's one example of Labour incompetence that our farmers know only too well. Just mention Margaret Beckett. Earlier this year, she made a monumental mess of paying farmers the money that they rely on. Her incompetence was in a league of its own.
And what did Tony Blair do?
Give her a dressing down?
No, he made her Foreign Secretary!
Margaret Beckett - the Foreign Secretary. You couldn't make it up!
Conference, she may have swapped her caravan for a helicopter, but it makes no difference to the damage she causes.
But, ladies and gentlemen, hope is at hand.
When we form the next government, we will have as our Foreign Secretary someone who will restore pride in that great office - and restore pride in Britain across the world.
Move over Margaret Beckett. Make way for William Hague.
There is one issue I particularly want to mention today. It is the European Parliament itself. Now, most people agree that one European Parliament is enough.
But to have two is absolutely bonkers!
That is why we have been campaigning to end the multi-million pound nonsense of the European Parliament meeting in both Brussels and Strasbourg every month.
Over a million people across Europe have signed our petition to end this travelling circus. So, today, I am going to ask you all to give us a hand.
I want you to visit our MEPs' stand at conference this week and do what David Cameron did this morning - sign up to this petition yourselves. Tony Blair hasn't lifted a finger to help our campaign. So, if he won't help, then we Conservatives will have to do the job for him.
Strasbourg is a symbol of what needs to change in Europe. And, the great task of reforming Europe is one that British Conservatives must now undertake.
That is what David Cameron, William Hague and I are determined to achieve in Europe. Re-form.
And, that is why we have set up, with our friends in the Czech ODS party, a new movement. In July, David Cameron and the Czech Prime Minister established the Movement for European Reform.
We will now work with allies, old and new, to build the case for a different kind of Europe.
A Europe that is open and free trading, not a bastion of protectionism.
A Europe that spends money on research and technology, not on subsidising tobacco farmers.
A Europe that works in partnership with our American allies, and not against them.
But, above all, a Europe that nurtures the nation state, not one that seeks to destroy it.
Our Party has made a choice - to build a new force that challenges head-on the old ways that have done so much damage to Europe.
I know there are some who believe that Europe cannot be reformed.
We are already building a new agenda for Europe.
And I am confident that, working with our allies, we can achieve just that.
We Conservatives know what we want.
A Europe of Nation States.
A Europe of free markets.
A Europe that does less, but does it better.
This is the prize.
This is the challenge.
A new direction for Europe.
A new alliance for a reformed Europe.
In short, a truly Conservative Europe.