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Introduction
Britain & the European Union
British Entry into Europe
How the European Union Works
The European Commission
The European Council
The European Parliament
The European Court of Justice
The Impact of Europe on British Politics
Ideas of Europeanisation
Central Government
Parliament
Local Government & devolved governments
Political Parties
Interest Groups
Trade Unions
Mrs Thatcher & Europe
John Major & the Maastricht Treaty
Labour accepts Europe - the new Labour Governments 1997-2010
The development of Euroscepticism
The Coalition & Europe
Introduction
Britain & the European Union
British Entry into Europe
How the European Union Works
The European Commission
The European Council
The European Parliament
The European Court of Justice
The Impact of Europe on British Politics
Ideas of Europeanisation
Central Government
Parliament
Local Government & devolved governments
Political Parties
Interest Groups
Trade Unions
Mrs Thatcher & Europe
John Major & the Maastricht Treaty
Labour accepts Europe - the new Labour Governments 1997-2010
The development of Euroscepticism
The Coalition & Europe
Britain & Europe banner

University 18 Yrs + | Britain & Europe

Political Parties

The European issue has divided the two main parties at different times, but participation in European Parliament elections from 1979 (MEPs were nominated by the parties before this) also had an impact as the parties had to draw up manifestos to explain what policies they would seek to promote in Europe.

Labour

For Labour, MEPs began to reconcile the party to Europe because they funded events and Brussels visits for Labour parties (especially before 1997 when many areas in the South of England had no Labour MP) and brought over Socialist MEPS, and even Italian Communist MEPS, who would explain how important European integration was.

Conservatives

The Conservative MEP group was originally pro-Europe and remained so as the party became Eurosceptic, only changing in recent years. This then created problems as to which group in the European Parliament the Conservative MEPS would join, as the centre right European People’s Party was seen as too pro-European.  David Cameron made a commitment, during his campaign to win the Conservative leadership, to withdraw the party’s MEPs from it. 

Smaller Parties

For the smaller parties the change to a proportional representation list system and the lower poll in European elections meant that they could gain representation at the European level if they can turn their supporters out.  Voters may treat these elections as what political scientists have called ‘second order elections’ where they vote differently to how they would in a general election.  This has benefitted the Liberal Democrats but has also seen the Greens, BNP and, especially, UKIP gain MEPs.

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