David Cameron launched his party’s European and local elections campaign in Manchester today. After weeks of polarised debate between Nick and Nigel, the PM had a task in suggesting that there could be some nuance between In and Out which involves a bit of shake-it-all-about. He repeated his line that both the Lib Dems and Ukip took an ‘extremist’ stance on the EU, saying:
‘Looking at the other parties, there are effectively two extremist camps. One says: “we love the European Union.” The other says: “we hate the European Union.” One says: “we want things to stay the same.” The other says: “let’s just walk away from the EU.” But in all this – there are three words they are missing, three words that sum up everything we are about in Europe. Britain’s. National. Interest. British jobs. British opportunities. British livelihoods.
‘And our argument is – you don’t maximise those interests by saying everything’s fine in Europe, you don’t maximise those interests by walking away from Europe, you get the best for Britain by rolling up your sleeves and fighting for real change in Europe.’
Cameron needs to convince voters that the Conservative party really can bring about change in Europe – and, as he admitted during a phone-in on Radio Norfolk earlier, he needs to convince them to jolly well get out and vote.
MPs will be returning to their constituencies for recess, wondering what the fall-out will be from the Maria Miller debacle. Some, like Jeremy Lefroy, have issued statements saying she should have gone sooner, which is surely an attempt to distance themselves from the snouts-in-the-trough accusations they fear they’ll face on the doorstep. It will be interesting to see how hard they feel it’s hitting the European election campaigns, regardless of how persuasive their party leader is when he says that Ukip ‘can’t change a thing in Europe and asks whether there is ‘anyone you would trust less than a group of Ukip MEPs?’. Tonight the Standard carries a poll showing support for Nigel Farage’s party hit record levels during the Miller row.