After the UK general election last week, the complexion of the country's new government and the composition of its parliamentary majority are under anxious scrutiny in the capitals of Europe and beyond.

Not just because the UK takes over the Presidency of the EU in a few weeks. Also because some hot EU issues will also be influenced by the new UK approach.

The discussions on the EU's medium-term spending plans may now get a chance to move ahead, freed from the UK's pre-election refusal to compromise on its special rebate.

But in his first days back in office, Prime Minister Tony Blair is offering a confusing mixed message of "business as usual" and "we'll listen more carefully to the voters". He has retained his Foreign Secretary and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, but replaced his minister responsible for Europe.

This champion of liberalism has been returned to government with a sharply reduced majority that takes a more traditional view of socialism. Some of his reforming zeal may have to be blunted, and some of his rhetoric about the UK's place being at the centre of Europe may have to be restrained, if he is to avoid an embarrassing defeat at home.

Giving money back to Europe will not be a popular message for him to sell. The post-election UK may well prove as...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT