Monday, 10 December 2012

Boris Johnson, Liam Fox & Owen Patterson pile on the pressure on the PM for an EU exit vote

DAVID Cameron will bow to public pressure and promise the British people an in-out referendum on the European Union, Boris Johnson said yesterday.
He indicated that the Prime Minister will ask voters to choose either a new, looser relationship with the EU or complete withdrawal.

Mr Johnson’s bold prediction, which signals a major boost to the Daily Express crusade to get Britain out of the
EU, comes as Mr Cameron faces a three pronged attack over his stance.

Senior Conservatives Liam Fox and Owen Paterson have joined the London Mayor in upping the ante in the past
week by calling for the Prime Minister to cut ties with Brussels.

But Mr Johnson’s claims give the clearest indication yet that Mr Cameron, who is preparing a major speech on Britain and the EU, may cave in.

He said Britain should renegotiate the terms of its EU membership to “chop off” rules that are invasive or unjustified, such as social regulation, fisheries rules and farming subsidies.

He said: “Let’s have a renegotiation in which we chop off the bits we don’t like. That renegotiation is essential. We have got to go in and get a better deal.”

Mr Cameron has promised to seek a “new settlement” for Britain in Europe and then put the deal to voters.

However, Mr Johnson said: “I reckon he is going to commit to a referendum which will be broadly an in-out referendum on the new terms.”

As pressure mounts on Mr Cameron, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox is expected today to call on the Government to adopt a “settled position” on Europe by this time next year.
He will also renew his call for the Tories to adopt “Back to the Common Market” as a new slogan on Europe, an idea he mooted at October’s party conference.

Dr Fox was due to say a “new consensus” is emerging which points to a looser, trade-based relationship with the EU.

Britain should seek to renegotiate its membership then put it to a referendum, he will argue at the Royal United Services Institute, and add: “If the choice is between a looser, more economic relationship and leaving, then I would choose to stay”, however, “if the choice is between the current trajectory towards ever-closer union and leaving, then I would choose to leave”.

Dr Fox’s intervention comes before a key EU summit about banking union – another stage in the development of a
core of EU nations excluding Britain.

Mr Cameron is expected to make his keenly anticipated speech soon setting out a framework for a referendum.

Downing Street sources said it was “50-50” whether the speech would be before Christmas.

The timing is complicated by talks on the EU’s budget for 2014-20, which will restart in January.

The Prime Minister has threatened to veto any deal which secures the EU a real-terms increase in its funding.

Dr Fox’s speech also comes as another leading Tory adopted a similar position.

                      Environment Secretary Owen Paterson indicated he could support leaving and suggested Britain would then do
better in the global economy.

He said closer integration may mean Europe will “create a new country” and if so “we want to get our country back”.

He said Ukip’s recent poll results reflect “increasing exasperation” that the current political system does not
reflect voters’ opposition to the EU.

He said: “Everyone talks about Europe, this isn’t Europe at all, this is our day-today government. I get absolutely fed-up with the E word.”

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