One of the first meetings at the European People’s Party Congress in Madrid was to discuss the ramifications and possibilities of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union as it prepares for a referendum sometime in 2017.

British absence from the EPP

The United Kingdom used to have a large presence in the EPP but as part of his election David Cameron promised to have the conservative Tories leave the EPP due to ideological objections over the pro-Federalist policy of the EPP. Despite this, Cameron has always been a proponent on reforming the British role in the European Union as opposed to simply exiting is as many conservative members of his government would like.

The possibility of “Brexit” was discussed at the EPP Conference in Madrid as one of the first meetings conducted today in Madrid was a panel led by the Martens center in which representatives from Spain, Britain, and the Martens Center each spoke on the issue.

Tories noticeably absent 

Not too long ago the Tories were present at every EPP Congress, which gave them the opportunity to help shape EU policy without the rigid formality of Brussels and Strasbourg. Now, as they have left the party, there are view if any voices to represent their interests. This all comes from a compromise made by Cameron to get gain 40 more votes in order to become Prime Minister, and was seen by many as the beginning of a legitimization of the idea of a “Brexit.”

Now, as Cameron seeks to keep his country in the European Union he will not have the opportunity to negotiate with EPP party leadership and try and allay those who would wish to leave the EU. If Britain truly does leave the Union, then the leaving of the EPP and lack of attendance for EPP 2015 in Madrid could be seen as the opportunity that Cameron lost to prevent a Brexit.