Poor Leon Brittan, or Lord Brittan as he has just become. All these years we thought Margaret Thatcher's former cabinet minister was enjoying himself in Brussels as an EU Commissioner. Now he tells us he's got both sides on his back: the pro-Europeans regarding him as a totem of Anglo-Saxon free-trading liberalism looking to closer links with America; the Euro-sceptics believing him to have gone native and joined the continental, socialist conspiracy intent on undoing all that Thatcher achieved. His purpose here is to tell Conservatives that it is all right to be in favour of Europe: "The real question...is can you be a pro-European centre-right Conservative? When you look at what is happening in Europe you have to ask 'how can you not be?'" So in describing his role at Brussels he asserts that the EU has moved in favour of free trade, that the Single Market is a mighty achievement and that the sooner we have Economic and Monetary Union, the better. Given his job, it would be remarkable if he did not.
Unfortunately, and as ever in the polarised debate on Europe, we are invited to accept such assertions as fact. Certainly his opponents would agree neither with his claim that Britain has already largely shaped the Union, nor with his belief that the Union follows the agenda of the centre right. Pro-European Conservatives will find comfort in his words, Euro-sceptics further ammunition. They are likely to agree only that Lord Brittan and his publishers should have chosen a less nauseating pun for the title. --Kim Fletcher