David Cameron appears to accept his plan is “general election, renegotiation, referendum” at House of Commons Scrutiny Committee
By Phillip Souta
A revealing exchange this afternoon at the House of Commons liaison Committee between the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Bernard Jenkin MP. The exchange gives further credence to the idea that David Cameron may be planning to announce that he is going to put an undertaking to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and put the outcome of that to a referendum into the Tory election manifesto in 2015. He makes further reference to a speech in autumn (probably at the Tory party conference) where he will set his position out in “more detail.”
We include a full transcript of the exchange below. The Prime Minister does not reject, indeed seems to accept in the tone of his answer, Jenkins’ “general election, renegotiation, referendum” point.
House of Commons Liaison Committee, 3 July 2012, c. 4.30PM
Bernard Jenkin: Prime Minister, I think you are proposing a very interesting and positive sequence of events – general election, mandate for renegotiation, leading to a referendum to address this status quo, or unsatisfactory status quo, issue. But can I just test my understanding, I mean is the lack of safeguards for the City an example of the unsatisfactory status quo?
David Cameron: I think the lack of, um, safeguards, is, it’s a permanent battle we have with Commissioner Barnier about Single Market regulation; so far I think the Treasury’s done an excellent job of defending Britain’s interests over things like CRD4 and other such directives. But what I think, the point I’m trying to make is, if another treaty comes forward that specifically concerns this area then the need for safeguards gets greater.
Jenkin: So you’re saying that as the eurozone federalises and generates the dynamic of integration that actually makes the status quo more difficult for the United Kingdom in the EU.
Cameron: Well it depends how they do it – I mean if you take for instance the banking union, I’m not trying to be evasive, this is very difficult – I spend a lot of time thinking about this
Jenkin: You’re being very candid.
Cameron: If the banking union – well that worries me to – but if the banking union [laughter] but if the banking union is done in a particular way through the ECB rather than the EBA which is an institution of the European Union and if there are safeguards as it goers under enhanced cooperation, there are safeguards to the Single Market, then that’s less worrying that the different way of doing things, so we have to see what instruments are brought forward, what the risks are and make our views accordingly.
Jenkin: But in addressing the unsatisfactory nature of the status quo, are you talking about nibbling back certain powers and competencies here and there or are we talking about what we might describe as a more fundamental change in our relationship with the EU? Or is this something that you don’t feel able to decide at the moment?
Cameron: I’m going to obviously make this speech in the autumn, when I set this out in more detail, but I’ve always felt that the powers over things like the social chapter, a lot of the Home Office legislation, those are areas that I think frankly the European Union shouldn’t have got into, but certainly Britain shouldn’t have got into with the European Union, so those are the ones that I would particularly highlight.