I am delighted to be able to respond to that point. Indeed, I was just about to give my reasons for wanting to have nothing to do with the EPP. In fact, I do not want my party to be directly associated with any such organisation. The avowed objective of the EPP is a federal and/or unitary Europe. Furthermore, it is tied to the Christian Democrats, which has many policies quite at variance with those upon which we, as Conservatives, expect to represent our constituents.
It caused me considerable concern to note that the application for membership of the European People's party—the letter that was written about a year and a half ago by the then chairman of the Conservative party, Christopher Patten, with the full consent of the Prime Minister—was couched in terms making it quite clear that a marriage was taking place. These vestal virgins had been taken to the altar, and had consummated a marriage with the European People's party. Surprise, surprise—the EPP's press release came out in the middle of our general election, lest anyone should notice what was going on.
Thus Conservative MEPs are in a rather difficult situation. They constitute a political party operating at European level. This is indeed important as a factor for integration into the union. They are pursuing a policy—apparently endorsed by the Government: something that I find it very difficult to understand and hope may yet be unravelled—that amounts to support not only for integration and European union, as described in article 138a, but for the whole concept of a united states of Europe. In fact, some of the documentation goes even further by saying that the European union would be a state with all the characteristics of sovereignty. I view these developments with considerable concern, and I regard the Minister's remarks of a few moments ago as quite extraordinary.