'Fresh Start' is Conservatives' new vision for Europe
- 21 January 2013
- From the section England
If you want to know what the Conservative Party really thinks about Europe then Fresh Start will give you a fair idea.
It's been an 18-month project, led by South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom, who says she's "desperate" for a better relationship with Europe.
It contains five treaty changes and a lot of reforms but its key message is that the status quo is not an option.
"The Eurozone crisis means greater fiscal unity is the way forward for the Eurozone countries, while we need to redefine our position," she says.
"The message is clear - we do want to remain in the EU but we do need specific changes to ensure our interests are protected."
The manifesto for change wants to protect financial services, "responsible for 11% of our tax take", but is keen to jettison the Working Time Directive, believing workers' rights are already enshrined in UK law, so we "lose nothing".
The European Courts of Justice also come in for criticism and the ending of the "Strasbourg circus" - the practice of moving the European parliament once a month - is vital, says the document.
"You have got be prepared to take action through a referendum if we are not getting what we want around the table. They do care if we leave but in the end we have to be prepared to leave," she warned.
Fresh Start has the backing of 100 MPs and it speaks volumes that William Hague has written the foreword.
The message that we stay in but on our terms or else may not be too far removed from the position of the party leadership.