Drinks with the Minister
Some 25 members and friends of the Paris branch of Conservatives Abroad, British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP) gathered together early in February for an impromptu drinks party to welcome the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office. Our hosts were members Philip and Patricia Hawkes, who very kindly hosted us all in their splendid offices a stone's throw from the British Embassy. The Minister spoke with a number of members before addressing the group, and rounded off the evening by answering questions.
Francis Maude spoke of the gradually growing support among other European leaders for David Cameron's desire for reform in the EU. Britain's contribution to Europe is widely recognized - we have the reputation of totally engaging, of getting under the surface of what is happening and what needs to be done. He also pointed to the Conservative Party's consistently good mid-term popularity ratings, better than for many previous Parliaments with Conservative governments in mid-term. David Cameron's ratings are consistently higher than those for the Party, the reverse of the situation at the Labour Party. The perception of the Conservative Party remains that we are economically competent, purposeful, and committed to the long-term future of the country.
Mention of the long-term future of the country of course led to the question of voting rights. Francis Maude told us he finds it is ridiculous that the law makes it so difficult for Brits abroad to vote, in a world where the busiest single polling station in Australian parliamentary elections is... Australia House, London!
Photograph: The Rt. Hon Francis Maude MP with Christopher Chantrey Chairman of BCiP