The Prime Minister announced this morning that, should he remain Prime Minister after the 2015 General Election, the British public would be asked whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union in a referendum. In an historic announcement David Cameron has outlined the ideal relationship between the UK and the EU. The Conservative Party will campaign for a fresh relationship with the EU that better suits the needs of the British people.
This relationship will centre around five points:
1. Competitiveness. If we are to succeed in the global race, the EU should be more competitive, with the completion of the single market our driving mission.
2. Flexibility. We need a structure that can accommodate the diversity of all the EU’s members, some of whom are contemplating much closer economic and political integration, and many others – including Britain – who would never embrace that goal.
3. Allowing power to flow back to Members States. Power must be able to flow back to Member States, not just away from them. In Britain we have already launched our balance of competences review to give us an informed and objective analysis of where the EU helps and where it hampers. In the same way we need to examine thoroughly what the EU as a whole should do and should stop doing.
4. Democratic accountability. We need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments. It is national parliaments which are the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU. We need to recognise that in the way the EU does business.
5. Fairness. Whatever new arrangements are enacted for the Eurozone, they must work fairly for those inside it and out. That will be of particular importance to Britain. Our participation in the single market and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU. So it is a vital interest for us to protect the integrity and fairness of the single market for all its members, not just the Eurozone.
I was very pleased with the content of the Prime Minister’s speech this morning. It is right that the British people will be given a say on the UK’s membership of the EU. While the EU has been good to us in many ways, the Prime Minister is right to call for a fresh relationship which allows us to keep much of our national sovereignty and always get the best result for Britain. This shows, once again, that the Conservative Party are the only party with a mature and reasoned approach to the European Union and are the only way of securing a referendum on EU membership.