Following David Cameron’s barn-storming visit to Ballymena last Thursday, William Hague this morning will be in Belfast, at the Waterfront Hall, to speak at the launch of the Conservatives and Unionists Manifesto for the European Elections.
Having quickly read the document, the following are the "stand-outs" for me
1. Jim Nicholson MEP (if elected obviously!) will be a full member of the Conservative Grouping in the next European Parliament.
2. It is part of a UK-wide platform for change with Conservative colleagues nationally, in Scotland and in Wales and so "offers the opportunity for Northern Ireland to play a full part in mainstream UK politics".
3. Transparency and ethics
All office costs, details of all travel, names of all staff, contractors and ‘paying agents’ and expenses claims will be online and updated them on a quarterly basis.
4.Support for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
The only mainstream UK party to do so, they also "support the right of the British people to have their say – through a referendum – on any proposed future transfer of competences, as powers are called in EU jargon."
5. Opposition to any further moves to involve Britain in deeper political integration in the EU.
6. Pledge to keep Britain out of the euro.
7. Support for the return of social and employment legislation to national control.
8. Opposition to wasteful spending throughout the EU, including calling for an end to European Parliament meetings in Strasbourg.
9. Support for the further enlargement of the EU, including to the Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Georgia and the countries of the Balkans, if they wish to achieve EU membership, "however distant that prospect may be in some cases".
(This is the most interesting and positive one for me)
10. The formation, along with the Czech Civic Democrats, of a new centre-
right, non-federalist group in the European Parliament.
The full document may be read here.