Britain and Europe

British political parties in Europe

2 April 2014

Reliable, Ambiguous, Reluctant & Dismissive

Renaud Thillaye

The first debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage saw the expected clash between anti-EU and pro-membership narratives. With the in/out question likely to dominate the European elections campaign, it is important to have a big picture view of how British political parties can, and have, aligned EU policy with the public interest.

This new Policy Network paper investigates how successful political parties have been at using the power of European politics. By analysing the voting patterns of British MEPs during the last European Parliament’s mandate (2009-2014), it highlights how often Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP participated in winning coalitions and have influenced policymaking in 15 of the European Parliament’s most important decisions.

The analysis finds sharp contrasts between the actions of Britain’s four political parties,  categorising them as ‘Reliable’, ‘Ambiguous’, ‘Reluctant’ and ‘Dismissive’ Europeans: the Lib Dems come across as a successful and reliable partners in making deals and influencing policy; Labour appears more ambivalent towards working with their allies; the Conservatives, after stepping out of the EPP group, have traded home comforts for a loss of influence in Brussels; and finally, UKIP simply dismisses EU legislation.

Photo credit: European Parliament / CC 2.0