- Bruges Group
The Bruges Group is a
Eurosceptic think tankbased in the United Kingdom.
The group is often associated with the Conservative Party, though it is independent of it and remains an all-party organisation. Its Honorary President is Baroness Thatcher, and its co-chairs are
Brian Hindleyand Barry Legg. A number of Labour politicians have been associated with the group, including Lord Shore, Frank Field and Gisela Stuart. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/05/20/neu20.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/05/20/ixhome.html]
The 1980s and 1990s
The group was set up by
Oxford Universitystudent Patrick Robertsonfollowing Margaret Thatcher's Eurosceptic speech delivered in Brugesin September 1988. It quickly became a focus for Euroscepticopinion and opposition to the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors. It is considered to be the common ancestor of the many British Eurosceptic parties and groups that emerged in the 1990s.
The group was considered highly influential during the period
1988- 1993, and was a rallying point for rebellious backbenchConservative MPs during House of Commons debates over the Maastricht Treaty. At the height of its influence, Robertson briefly attempted to break the group out of its Westminsterbase. An Oxford branch was set up (under Roland Smith) with important links to Oxford University's rapidly growing Eurosceptic movement led by student and future Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan. The group then went through a difficult period. Dr Alan Sked, a leading academic associated with the group, fell out with other leading members during 1991- 1992, and went on to form the Anti-Federalist League, which later evolved into the UK Independence Party. Robertson left the group a short time later, later becoming an adviser to James Goldsmith's Referendum Party.
The present day
The group continues to publish, and is active on the
World Wide Web. Some of its leading lights are active in the blogosphere(e.g. Dr Helen Szamuelyand Dr Richard Northat the EU Referendum blog).
These newspaper articles related to a report exposing the costs of EU membership in September 2006.
Additional reports were in the "Daily Express".
* [http://www.brugesgroup.com/ Bruges Group web site]
* [http://www.coleurop.be/file/content/publications/pdf/Collegium29.pdf Analysis of the Bruges Group's history and its place in UK euro-scepticism]
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