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Conservatives launch their Euro campaign

PUBLISHED: 07:16 19 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:37 06 July 2010

MEPs, MPs and prospective candidates for the Conservative party visit the English Whisky Company at St George's Distillery in East Harling.
MEP Geoffrey Van Orden tries some of the whisky

MEPs, MPs and prospective candidates for the Conservative party visit the English Whisky Company at St George's Distillery in East Harling. MEP Geoffrey Van Orden tries some of the whisky

Conservatives campaigning to become to the region's Euro MPs yesterdaywarned that a vote for the minor parties would be a travesty and would do nothing to secure proper change in Brussels.

Conservatives campaigning to become to the region's Euro MPs yesterdaywarned that a vote for the minor parties would be a travesty and would do nothing to secure proper change in Brussels.

The Tories launched their regional European Parliament election campaign as party leader David Cameron also pledged that Tory MEPs would have to publish details of their expenses online and sign a pledge on their conduct as part of his bid to “clean up politics”.

The Tories currently have three regional MEPs in Brussels and are hoping to add to their number on June 4.

But all three main political parties have been rocked by the MPs expenses scandal and recent opinion polls have showed strong support for the UK Independence Party.

There are also fears that disaffected voters could either stay at home or vote for the far right British National Party (BNP).

Conservative lead candidate Geoffrey van Orden said he was worried that the scandal was in danger of obscuring a proper debate about the important issues Britain's future in Europe.

“It would be a travesty if the minor parties were to benefit from this situation,” he said. “They do not stand up to scrutiny - in particular those I call the 'three letter' (BNP) and 'four letter' parties (UKIP).

“We are not happy about the EU as it is and the direction it is moving in and we want to change that, but the way you do that is by having more Conservative MEPs and working with a Conservative government. These other parties are not able to bring about change.

“We know people aren't happy with the European Union, but we don't want to turn our backs on it.”

Last night UKIP activists held an “anti-immigration” rally in Diss.

But Mr van Orden attacked UKIP claims that the EU was responsible for a flood of immigration in this country.

“More than half of the immigrants are coming from outside of the EU,” he said. “I think they are competing on the same territory as the BNP. We recognise we have a settled immigrant population who are making a very good contribution. We recognise it's not helpful if you uncontrolled immigration, but what we want is proper controls.

Yesterday Jeremy Hunt joined activists for the campaign launch at Newmarket followed by a visit to the English Whisky Co Ltd at Roudham, near Thetford before a visit to the Castle Museum and a meeting with bosses at Archant, publishers of the EDP to hear views on the future of the local media industry.

Vicky Ford, the party's third placed candidate, said as well as promising a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty the party would fight plans to hand over more powers to bureaucrats in Brussels.

“People share our frustrations about Brussels and we need to reform both the EU and Britain's relationship with it,” she said. “If lots of people stay away from the ballot boxes they could be represented by very extreme views which I do not think is in Britain's interests.”

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