Press release - Senior Tories strengthen Conservative European Forum as organisation pledges to be a ‘bridge to Europe’

  • Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced as CEF President
  • Flick Drummond MP and Baroness Sugg to join CEF leadership team
  • Sir David Lidington to serve a second year as CEF Chair
  • Rudd says close cooperation with Europe is essential for Conservative electoral success

The leading Conservative organisation advocating a new strategic partnership between the UK and the rest of democratic Europe is bolstering its leadership with the election of former Home Secretary Amber Rudd as President.

The Conservative European Forum (CEF) is also welcoming Baroness Sugg as Vice President and Flick Drummond MP as Vice Chair, joining other senior Conservatives pledging to build a ‘thriving’ relationship with the European Union, its 27 Member States and the other European democracies.

Rudd said the Conservative Party must remain a ‘broad church’ attracting voters who favour close relationships with Europe.

At its AGM today (Tuesday), the CEF announced the following leadership positions:

  • Rt Hon Amber Rudd – President
  • Baroness Sugg – Vice President
  • Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC – Vice President
  • Rt Hon Sir David Lidington KCB CBE – Chair
  • Stephen Hammond MP – Deputy Chair
  • Flick Drummond MP – Vice Chair

Sir David Lidington, Stephen Hammond and Dominic Grieve now begin their second year as Chair, Deputy Chair and Vice President, whilst Amber Rudd, Flick Drummond and Baroness Sugg join the top ranks of CEF for the first time.

Addressing the AGM, Sir David revealed the CEF doubled its membership and supporters in the last year, while renewing ties with the centre-right European People’s Party and developing links with European embassies. Sir David said:

“I am very encouraged by the progress we have made over the last year, which has been a difficult time for everyone, and the renewed interest in CEF. I look forward to building on these successes in the year ahead. Constructive European engagement will be of paramount importance for Global Britain to succeed post Covid-19 and CEF is uniquely placed to act as a bridge between the UK and continental Europe’s centre-right.

“As the Government’s Integrated Review states plainly, the United Kingdom is a European country which also has global interests. Outside the European Union, the UK shares many interests in common with our neighbours and faces the same threats to our security and prosperity. It is in our national interest to build a new, close strategic partnership with the other democracies of our own region of the world. Engagement in Europe is part of Global Britain, not an alternative to it.

“CEF will continue putting forward positive and constructive proposals to strengthen UK-EU cooperation, helping both sides find new ways of working together and, where necessary, to compromise. The Northern Ireland Protocol, the Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications are just some of the issues CEF intends to focus on in the year ahead.

“As a Conservative group, we are also committed to strengthen relations with Conservative and Christian Democrat parties across Europe.

“I am delighted that Amber Rudd and Flick Drummond will be joining me and Stephen Hammond in leading CEF. They bring a wealth of political experience with them. It is good that CEF now has a number of women in leadership roles”.

Amber Rudd, a former Home Secretary in Theresa May’s government and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions under both May and Johnson, said:

“I am delighted to become CEF President and would like warmly to thank my predecessor, Ken Clarke, for all his hard work and dedication over his many years of service.’

Rudd highlighted the work that must be done around the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), and spoke of the need to embrace Conservative voters who favour close ties with Europe. She added:

“The TCA is far from perfect and now is the time to build on its foundation in areas of mutual self-interest.

“One of the key reasons why the Conservative Party has been so electorally successful is because it is a broad church. CEF has a key role to play ensuring that remains the case. As the recent Chesham and Amersham by-election demonstrated, the Conservative Party must not shut out pro-European Conservatives”

“We must not repel Conservatives who favour a close UK-European relationship.  Otherwise, they will get used to voting elsewhere. CEF is their natural political home within the Conservative family.”

Flick Drummond MP said:

“As the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, UK-EU relations will be once again in the spotlight and I look forward to building Parliamentary support for the CEF. The Forum has consistently put forward positive and constructive proposals and as new ideas come forward, they need to be considered carefully by my Conservative colleagues and by those in Government.

“Together, we can mainstream the benefits of strategic UK-EU cooperation within the Conservative family and ensure that the Conservative Party’s long tradition of supporting close engagement with Europe does not just stay alive, but thrives”.