Ms Swinburne is also adamant that controversy among Welsh Conservatives about the devolution of income tax powers must not be allowed to prevent the party fighting a unified campaign.Back in 2009, David Cameron and Ms Swinburne celebrated her party’s first place finish in the Welsh vote on the steps of the Senedd and the result gave the party a morale boost as it prepared for the 2010 general election.Arguing the stakes are higher this time, she said: “This is an election that will be the run-up to probably the most critical general election in my time, certainly in my voting life. The only way in that general election you are going to get [an EU] referendum is through having Conservatives there, a Conservative majority in parliament. Ukip will do nothing other than give us a Labour Government and no vote.”
Her party is preparing for the election following a high-profile disagreement on the devolution of income tax between Welsh Secretary David Jones and Conservative Assembly leader Andrew RT Davies, who sacked four members of his shadow cabinet after they failed to vote on a motion criticising the model of powers the UK Government proposes to devolve to the Assembly.
Ms Swinburne declined to give her opinion, saying: “For me to get elected every part of Wales counts. I am not going to say anything – you wouldn’t be surprised – that will upset any one of my members, one way or the other.
“They have their own issues to deal with; I’m sure they will work through them. But they have all promised me between last Tuesday and now that they will all work for my election irrespective of what divisions may be temporarily appearing.”
Arguing that Labour is also struggling to adapt to the challenges of devolution, she said: “The Labour party have got just as big a problem as we have… I think what this has demonstrated is that both ends of the M4 – in all political parties – need to talk more.”
As a member of the powerful committee on economic and monetary affairs she played a leading role in ensuring that the influence on non-eurozone states was not diminished as a result of measures introduced in the wake of the financial crisis. She was also at the forefront of efforts opposing a EU financial transaction tax.
She hopes that the renegotiation of the UK’s membership that Mr Cameron aims to lead after the 2015 election will result in the return of control over key areas of social and justice legislation. Arguing that the UK should have had a referendum after the Lisbon treaty, she said: “We didn’t, and so now is the time that I think we need to lance the boil.”
With pride, she said: “The opportunity of actually representing Wales daily has been the biggest privilege and honour. I suspect my colleagues in Westminster don’t ever feel as quite as patriotic as I get to feel.”