Monthly newsletter Sir Robert reports:-

There are a number of highly controversial issues in the European domain at the moment and your Tory MEPs have been in the thick of the debates, fighting for British interests. The so-called Rapid Reaction Force, setting up the beginnings of a European Army, is one that causes concern. If I was convinced that our EU colleagues were as committed to the use of military force on our Continent when the circumstances demanded it, rather than sitting on their hands, and if I believed that their forces were as highly-trained and effective as ours, I might be persuaded. But I am not.

We also have some difficulties with the Prime Minister offering to relinquish the British Veto on fifteen new areas of policy. One of those is transport, which means that decisions will be taken on the basis of Qualified Majority Voting - i.e. a show of hands at Ministerial meetings. Whilst this may not be a problem for international transport, QMV will impinge on subsidiary domestic issues and we could find ourselves, for example, having to abide by EU speed limits, taking a EU Driving Test or being unable to define our own blood/alcohol levels. This is an unacceptable decision by the Labour Government.

My wife, Dulcie, laid a wreath on Remembrance Sunday, on behalf of her Borough Council, and the simple but moving ceremony reminded me, as it always does, how many men and women gave their lives to defend freedom on the Continent of Europe. For all its faults, the EU has provided a bulwark for peace for over 50 years and, during the natural and understandable furore over its future powers, we should offer heartfelt thanks for that.

Our Party Leader has just paid two speaking visits to the region and I was privileged to be at Manchester United FC with 520 Cheshire & Manchester supporters and then at Clayton-le-Moors with 320 Lancashire members. William was on top form and we were able to raise substantial financial assistance for our Marginal Seats Campaign. Many PPCs were present on both occasions and were all fired up for the General Election hustings. Our opponents had better watch out!

I was involved, as I know were many of you, in the recent Preston By-Election, the result of which provided good news for the Party. Graham O'Hare waged a splendid fight and the 9% swing from Labour that he achieved spells defeat for a number of Labour MPs in our region.

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