President Bush’s speech to European leaders last week was toned down at the last moment to avoid giving his support to the proposed EU constitution, after a strenuous lobbying campaign by conservative activists in Washington.
Leading British Euro-sceptics were enlisted to help win a battle within the White House over how far Mr Bush should go in endorsing a more unified EU, after reports began to circulate in Washington that his planned speech would express backing for the constitution.
According to one European Parliament official, who says he was shown an advance draft of Mr Bush’s remarks by a “well-connected” American contact, the President was originally going to say: “I know Europe is creating a constitution. We in America value our constitution and so should you.”
In the event, at his meeting with EU heads of government in Brussels on Monday, Mr Bush merely declared his backing for what he called Europe’s “democratic unity&rdquo.
Apparently the State Department wrote the original draft, refecting its view that a more unified Europe is good for American diplomacy. Condoleezza Rice had hinted that her department held this view on her visit to Europe earlier in the month. The Heritage Foundation think tank led the charge aganst the State Department line, enlisting British eurosceptics, including members of UKIP, the Telegraph reports. Daniel Hannan MEP, a eurosceptic Tory, also claims credit.