Eurozone Crisis: Tories Call For EU Referendum

December 7th, 20115:26 pm @


Eurozone Crisis: Tories Call For EU Referendum

David Cameron is facing pressure from senior Conservatives to call a referendum over Europe if a treaty change is proposed at the eurozone crisis summit in Brussels.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: “If Britain was asked to sign up to such a thing within the 27 (EU members), it would be right for us either to veto it… If we felt unable to veto it, then certainly it should be put to a referendum.”

Cabinet member Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, also threw weight behind the call for a referendum saying it would be an “inevitable” result of proposals for closer fiscal union in the eurozone.

David Cameron had said he would veto plans for a new EU treaty unless European leaders agree to a list of British demands.

A heated Prime Minister’s Questions session in Westminster was dominated by the crisis, with Labour leader Ed Miliband accusing Mr Cameron of going soft on Europe, saying one thing to placate his eurosceptic MPs and another to European leaders.

The Prime Minister insisted he wanted “more power and control” for the UK saying: “The more that countries in the eurozone ask for, the more we will ask for in return.

“But we will judge that on the basis of what matters most for Britain.”

Follow comment and analysis on Wednesday’s PMQs from the Sky News team below:

The Prime Minister insisted that if eurozone countries want to use the “institutions of Europe” to rescue the single currency, they will have to back a number of “British safeguards” in return.

During emergency talks in Paris on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy renewed calls for reform of the treaty.

The aim would be to allow far tougher rules and sanctions governing the eurozone in future to reassure markets about the euro’s long-term stability.

Mr Cameron said he was heading to talks in Brussels later this week “to defend and promote British interests”.

“Now, the most important British interest right now is to sort out the problem in the eurozone that is having the chilling effect on our economy that I have spoken about,” he said.

“That obviously means eurozone countries doing more together and if they choose to use the European Treaty to do that, then obviously there will be British safeguards and British interests that I will want to insist on.

“And I won’t sign a treaty that doesn’t have those safeguards in it, around things like, of course, the importance of the single market and financial services.

“Now, if they choose to go ahead with a separate treaty, then clearly that is not a treaty that Britain would be signing or would be amending but, of course, if they want to use the European institutions, then we will be insisting on the safeguards and the protections that Britain needs.

“Britain is a member of the European Union, we benefit from our membership of the European Union. Key to that is the single market.

“We want the single currency crisis solved but we will protect and defend British interests at the same time.”

However, Europe may not need a brand new treaty to put tighter fiscal rules into action, according to the President of the European Council.

Herman Van Rompuy

European Council President Herman van Rompuy will chair the EU summit on December 8 and 9

After considering suggestions made by the French and German leaders, Herman van Rompuy said in a report that the changes could be achieved through minor adjustments to the current EU treaty, making the process much quicker than producing a new agreement which would need to be ratified by parliaments in all 27 member states.

The main aim would be to reinforce rules for eurozone states to keep their deficit and debt below a set proportion of their gross domestic product (GDP) – 3% of output for the yearly deficit and 60% for overall debt.

The report is due to be discussed at the EU summit on December 8 and 9, which Mr van Rompuy will chair.

Meanwhile, the Justice Secretary called on the Prime Minister to focus on maintaining the “financial stability of the western world” at the upcoming summit, adding that it would be a distraction to try to open up discussions about the “wider structures of the union”.

Ken Clarke told the Financial Times newspaper: “We’re not going to renegotiate any transfers of powers, in my opinion.”

He said Britain should not expect the repatriation of powers from Brussels as an outcome of the meeting, and that the country should be prepared to accept “proper” financial regulation from Brussels.

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