James Forsyth

Tories try to hold the line on Europe

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The pre-conference coverage today is dominated by a marginals poll which shows the Tories on course for a 70 seat majority down from 146 this time last year, a Tory proposal on elderly care and the likely Irish yes vote and interviews with Osborne and Hague. Osborne receives a thoroughly positive write-up from the Mail; though it does rather stretch credulity when he claims that he is not obsessed by politics. The most interesting section in the Hague interview with The Times is when he concedes that the Czechs are very unlikely to hold the ratification process up until the Conservatives are in power: “Ireland is not the end of the ratification process. It is just one important bit of it. The Czech Prime Minister has advised the other heads of government that there may still be three to six months of court proceedings before he can sign the treaty."

Hague then flashes a bit of Euro-sceptic leg, saying: "Clearly there are a number of options for the type of referendum — I am not ruling anything out.” The question over the next 24 hours is whether this line is enough to prevent the issue of what to do about Lisbon from dominating conference.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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