Daniel Korski

Is Euro-pragmatism here to stay?

Is Euro-pragmatism here to stay?
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I'm off to Brussels, capital of the superstate, home of the EUSSR, or whatever you might want to call it. It has made me re-engage with European issues for the first time in six months.

If Europe is not dead as a political issue in Britain then it is at least firmly stored in a coalition freezer, which can only be unlocked in the case of a thumping electoral for the Conservatives. But if the Tories scrape in at the next election or come up short of an outright majority,  David Cameron is likely to want the Coalition to continue.

That would mean another decade of euro-pragmatism. A decade is a very long time in politics. If, after ten years in government, the Coalition was to fail and Labour win or a Lib-Lab government was to be forged, then the trajectory is likely to continue into the future. That will scare most Spectator readers, but it is the most likely outcome as a thumping Conservative election victory is so unlikely.

What, then, will be the effect? Will the  Conservative Party splinter and a euro-hating rump merge with UKIP? Perhaps a few Tory MPs would head off but I just don't see it happening in vote-shifting numbers. Will UKIP pick up more disgruntled ex-Tory voters? Of course - but probably not in great numbers. And the impact will depend on the electoral system after the AV referendum.

So the only way to steer Britain off a pragmatically European trajectory is for Conservative MPs and grassroots to campaign for an outright Tory victory in 2015. But that may be difficult for a party base that will spend the next five years being disappointed by the Cameron-Clegg policy of Euro-pragmatism.