The result of the first round of the French Presidential election has provoked mixed feelings in YEM UK, but also a common sense of purpose, which relates both to France’s second round, and to the UK’s own General Election on June 8th.
Firstly, we should say that we count in our membership a good many people of French nationality who are studying, working, and living in the UK. Among them were supporters of Fillon, Mélenchon, and Hamon, in addition to the current front-runner Emmanuel Macron. We are pleased that of them, the one who got through was able to have a higher vote share than Marine Le Pen. However, that does not make up for our continued concern at the relatively high popularity she, her Party, and its ideas have gained among the French electorate. We may be out of the frying pan but it remains unclear if we are yet out of the fire.
We support strongly our friends and partners in JEF France, and we endorse strongly their statement following the election where they come out decisively against Madame Le Pen (http://www.jeunes-europeens.org/Un-seul-choix-au-second-tour-l-Europe). Of course, our organisations have traditionally been cross-party and no-party, but where candidates whose main campaign message is one that is both anti-European and against the liberal democracy around which that has been built, we and they cannot but speak out for what is right.
Over the Channel
It is in this vein that you can expect YEM UK to be doing similar in the forthcoming General Election. We must emphasise in our situation however that we do not endorse any one party. No party is 100% pro-European unfortunately, and there are elements for and against us in every camp. Specifically, we do not endorse the anti-Conservative spreadsheet that is doing the rounds on the internet, though several members have directed our attention to this document. The reasoning is simple, in our membership are Conservatives. There is nothing inherent to Conservatism that makes it hostile to European integration, and if anything some of us would argue the opposite is true. In terms of pure strategy, to cast aside the entire field of centre-right politics and leave it for Brexiteers is to doom the UK to never integrating with Europe. It is not a necessary course of action, and it is not one that is helpful to our cause.
It is with that in mind that we encourage our members and followers to reach across their respective political tribes just as the one issue that this election is really about will cut across these same political tribes. Support the most vociferously Europhile candidate in your constituency, and try and have them pledge to fight our corner in the months ahead.
YEM is currently in conversation with other pro-EU groups in order to create a list of pro-EU candidates that are worthwhile supporting, and we can say for certain that this will include names from all the major parties. Keep your eyes peeled! In the meantime, register to vote.