The Prime Minister’s major speech on Europe, due to be delivered in Amsterdam tomorrow, has been postponed due to the Algerian Hostage Crisis. Ipswich Spy published this article about twenty minutes before this was announced.
Tomorrow the Prime Minister was planning to give a major speech on Britain’s relationship with the European Union. He was expected to call for a negotiation with other nations over the various aspects of our membership of the European Union that cause many British voters real concern. His speech has been much hyped and has received suggestions from just about every quarter about what he should say.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to use his speech on Britain’s relationship with Brussels to “re-establish a sensible policy of positive leadership in Europe”.
The letter, signed by fifteen Tory MPs, but supported by a further ten MPs, who endorsed the letter under the condition that their names would remain anonymous, fearing the “virulent anti-European sentiment in their local associations”, was sent to Mr Cameron on Tuesday.
Mr Cameron was told that the signatories “believe that disengagement from Europe is profoundly contrary to Britain’s national interests”
The letter argues that in many ways – “economic reform, deregulation, competition, trade and the environment” – the EU has been shaped by positive British leadership and that when the UK demonstrates “energetic leadership and vision” we can achieve great things without the need to resort to constant discussion about retreat or withdrawal. The reference to the fact that such things are achieved with the “help of strong allies and continued goodwill” reads as a not-so-oblique criticism of the bridge-burning, confrontational rhetoric sometimes espoused by Eurosceptic Conservative MPs.
The signatories also express concern about a possible “over-emphasis in your speech on renegotiation and a referendum rather than leadership”, and fears that renegotiation would “potentially endanger Margaret Thatcher’s defining European legacy”.
To read the letter in full, visit the Centre for British Influence Through Europe here.
Mr Cameron is expected to outline a “renegotiate and referendum” strategy, offering his party the chance to vote on EU membership if the Tories win the next election.
Yet Labour have accused him of losing control of his party on Europe, with Ed Miliband mocking him in the House of Commons. Locally David Ellesmere said that, were he advising Mr Cameron, he would “advise him to get a grip of his party.
“His first priority should be the best interests of the country, rather than attempting to shore up his own position by trying to placate mutinous Tory backbenchers.”
Business is also weighing in, with Sir Roger Carr, Chief Executive of Centrica and Chairman of the CBI, telling ITV’s Laura Kuenssberg that if the PM promises an in/out referendum, it is an “anti-growth position”. The debate has already given investors a reason to “think twice” about spending money here at a time when the economy needs it so much, he said.
“For inward investors who look to Britain to be the bridge into Europe, it is a reason to think twice, and I think none of that is good for the British economy.
“It is about jobs, it is about investment, it’s about confidence, confidence for those who look to Britain to be a place to invest as outsiders, confidence from those who run businesses in Britain.
“Anything that can undermine the potential for growth – and I think total destabilisation by a stark in/out referendum decision could do that – is an anti-growth position.”
Nick Clegg has warned David Cameron that it would be “unwise” to create “a prolonged period of uncertainty” over Britain’s relationship with Europe.
Mr Clegg told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme that it was currently unclear exactly how Europe would change following the eurozone crisis.
“The eurozone is changing. That is obvious. We do not know yet when that will manifest itself in a new treaty and we don’t know if that new treaty… does become a reality whether that will ask new things of the United Kingdom,” he said.
“All I am saying is we should be very careful at a time when the British economy is still haltingly recovering from the worst economic shock in a generation to create a very high degree and prolonged period of uncertainty because, in my view, uncertainty is the enemy of growth and jobs.”
He said that “our priority in this government and our priority in the national duty” was to get growth and jobs in the UK and any unnecessary uncertainty could “chase away” investment and threaten jobs.Mr Clegg said it was important to reassure the British public that legislation was already in place to trigger a referendum if a new treaty led to a “significant transfer of powers” to Brussels.
But he warned: “I don’t think it’s wise to add to that with a degree of uncertainty which will have a chilling effect on jobs and growth.”
Tory peer Lord Wolfson, who run’s clothing giant Next, said he thought the Deputy PM was talking “absolute nonsense – it is scare tactics from someone who has never run a business.”
“We have heard these scare stories before,” he said, “the same people made that threat when we didn’t join the Euro 10 years ago…it is the same people making the same warnings about a different subject.
“He was wrong then, he’s wrong now.”
Filed under: Campaign Activity, Economy, Election News, Government, Policy Tagged: | Ben Gummer MP, Centre for British Influence through Europe, David Cameron MP, David Ellesmere, EU, European Union, Lord Wolfson, Nick Clegg, Sir Roger Carr