Ukip ‘wouldn’t have spooked Maggie’

Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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The outgoing head of the European Commission has claimed Margaret Thatcher would have rejected Ukip’s Eurosceptic arguments as he accused Conservative MPs of “surrendering” to Nigel Farage’s party.

Jose Manuel Barroso, who will stand down as commission president next month after 10 years, told the Daily Telegraph he believed the late Baroness Thatcher was a supporter of open labour markets and enlargement of the European Union rather than what he called “protectionism”.

It comes after David Cameron hit back at the former Portuguese leader’s comments that Britain leaving the EU would be a “historic mistake”, with the Prime Minister restating his promise of an EU referendum.

Mr Barroso told the paper: “It is a mistake to give in to those negative forces of protectionism – because this is a form of labour market protectionism. I am not surprised at the protectionism in some other countries, but in Britain I am surprised. Your tradition is exactly the opposite.

“As a friend of Britain looking from the outside, I remember well Margaret Thatcher. I worked with her when I was young, as deputy foreign minister of Portugal. The Conservative sentiment was a sentiment of openness. So I am surprised when I see so many Conservative politicians surrendering to the arguments of Ukip.”

“What I remember about Margaret Thatcher, she was for enlargement and for fighting protectionism. I don’t remember her defending labour market protectionism. On the contrary she was for opening markets. From what I remember of Thatcher she would not be surrendering to these arguments.”

Mr Barroso added he felt Tory MPs who were privately in favour of the EU should “leave the comfort zone and speak out”, while he said Ukip was a “populist” party in a larger movement against globalisation

Mr Cameron has promised to reform the UK’s relationship with the EU ahead of an in/out referendum by the end of 2017 if he remains in office after the general election.

Speaking during a visit to the Ford factory in Dagenham yesterday Mr Cameron responded to Mr Barroso’ earlier comments, saying: “What we need in Britain is a renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union and then a referendum where the British people decide do we stay in this reformed organisation or do we leave it.

“That’s what I will pursue, that’s what I will deliver, and at the heart of that renegotiation we need to address people’s concerns about immigration.

“I’m very clear about who the boss is, about who I answer to and it’s the British people – they want this issue fixed, they are not being unreasonable about it, and I will fix it.”

Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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