Sir David Lidington and Stephen Hammond MP launch Conservative European Forum to ‘put global Britain at the heart of Europe’
- Conservative group offers a home to those who support closer relationships with Europe
- Chair Sir David Lidington says UK-EU deal provides basis for a ‘special relationship’ and pledges to make strategic engagement with Europe central to mainstream political thinking
- Online launch attracts senior Conservatives and European politicians, plus leaders from industry and the diplomatic community
The UK must put a ‘strategic and close relationship with the countries and institutions of Europe’ at the core of its global plans, according to senior Conservative Sir David Lidington.
Sir David will make his call today (Thursday) as he launches the Conservative European Forum (CEF), which aims to be the leading centre-right organisation advocating for closer relationships with Europe.
An integral part of making "Global Britain" a success will depend on the UK’s ability to be "European Britain". The concepts are not contradictory, but mutually reinforcing, says Sir David. In Washington, and capital cities around the world, the UK’s global voice is amplified by its role as a European partner, the new group argues.
Sir David is launching the CEF – which he chairs – at an online event this evening, at which he is expected to say:
“The launch of the Conservative European Forum represents a key moment for centre-right pro-Europeanism. The UK – and the Conservative Party – must move on from the fractious debates of the last five years.
“CEF will focus on the practical challenges of the UK’s place in the world. The Prime Minister was right when he said that the UK would continue to be 'culturally, emotionally, historically and strategically' attached to Europe. The UK should not be afraid to work closely with democracies of Europe.
"Our organisation will help to rebuild trust between the UK and European centre-right groups, enabling all parties to effectively work together and tackle our shared challenges. Climate change, international organised crime and Covid-19, all these issues, and more, require the UK to be fully engaged with Europe.”
CEF Deputy Chair Stephen Hammond MP is expected to say:
“I welcome the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a positive step forward. Now is the time to build upon the deal to ensure it works for all parties and all industries. For example, there is work to be done for the financial services sector, in simplifying trade protocols and maintaining continued security cooperation.
“Many Conservative supporters favour developing UK-European cooperation and we must now find new ways of working together. CEF will be putting forward positive and constructive proposals to strengthen UK-European relationships.
“I will be working to ensure CEF has the Parliamentary support it needs to be successful, in the crucial role as an advocate, within Parliament and the wider Conservative Party, for developing close future partnerships between the UK and Europe.”