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Redwood promises UK right-wing policies

By PAUL GOULD

LONDON, June 27 -- Former Cabinet minister John Redwood pledged Tuesday to block Britain's entry to a single European currency and to fight federal powers for the European Union if he wins the Conservative Party leadership battle to replace Prime Minister John Major. Launching a right-wing campaign platform that sought to emphasize differences between himself and Major, Redwood also called for a reduction in the welfare state's role in family life and voiced support for the death penalty. Redwood, who until Monday was in Major's Cabinet as secretary of state for Wales, told reporters he opposed British integration into European monetary union. Major has refused to commit to either joining or staying out of an eventual monetary union, saying he would wait to see the conditions at the time. 'As prime minister I would not recommend a single European currency to the British people and Parliament,' Redwood said at a news conference. Redwood also said he would consider a referendum in a bid to confirm popular opposition to the single currency. 'I do not believe people voted to join a European super-state,' Redwood said. 'It's right that the government should resist it while contributing to the debate for other countries.' He also said decisions taken by the European Court should revert to the Council of Ministers if the court moved toward 'amending or making the law' instead of reviewing individual cases. Redwood resigned as Welsh secretary to enter the leadership contest Monday following Major's surprise decision last Thursday to resign as party chief to force a leadership election.

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The prime minister's 'put up or shut up' challenge was meant to silence Tory critics pressuring him to halt Britain's closer integration into the European Union. Instead, it spurred Redwood to pick up the gauntlet and rally the so-called 'Euro-skeptics' in the Conservative party around him. Redwood also drew comparisons with former leader Margaret Thatcher, whom he served as policy adviser, and Newt Gingrich, the right-wing Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. He advocated a firmly right-wing agenda of traditional family values, maintaining defense levels, cutting tax and taking a tough stance on crime. 'We should always remember that the state does not make the best parents,' he said. 'The extended family, wherever possible, should be encouraged to provide care and support for its members.' Redwood said 'no more regiments should go' -- a reference to defense cuts the government has already made -- and said that Queen Elizabeth's private ship Britannia should be preserved. 'Tories keep royal yachts. They don't scrap them,' declared the would-be leader, who has been nicknamed 'the Vulcan' after Dr. Spock in the science fiction series 'Star Trek' because of his cold, emotionless style. Echoing another oft-stated Conservative promise, he said public spending and borrowing would need to shrink to pave the way for tax cuts. Home Secretary Michael Howard, a supporter of John Major, said there was 'nothing really new' in Redwood's manifesto. 'What he said substantially reflects government policy,' Howard said. Norman Lamont, the embittered former Treasury chief fired by Major, said Redwood was 'undoubtedly more cautious about the European Union than John Major.' 'This country is crying out for vision and leadership, and John Redwood would provide it,' Lamont told the BBC. Major's supporters attacked the Euro-skeptic wing of the party for what they calledextremism. Conservative Party Chairman Jeremy Hanley told the BBC he was surprised at 'the company he keeps' -- a reference to Redwood's Euro- skeptic supporters who were at his side when he mounted the leadership challenge in the House of Commons. Europhile Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, speaking from the EU summit in Cannes, condemned Redwood's policies as 'extreme and simplistic ideology, which would not be listened to here.' 'That platform is all very well for some right-wing Republicans in America who are not in government,' he said.

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