Statement on Britain's new settlement in the EU
As Chairman of Conservatives for Reform in Europe, I welcome the new settlement which the Prime Minister has secured in Brussels. This is a good deal for Britain and one which I believe Conservatives can and should support.
Conservatives have long sought a European arrangement which recognises Britain’s unique circumstances and separates us from the drive towards a superstate.
The new settlement, which will be legally binding, permanently carves Britain out of ever closer union and secures our special status in Europe. We will be outside the euro, and protected from deeper integration, but with full access to the single market. We will remain in the world’s greatest trading block of over 500 million people, but still be outside the Schengen area and so able to maintain our borders.
The reforms address the key concerns that Conservatives have about our membership of the EU, covering four important areas:
- Protecting our country from further European political integration;
- Securing the pound and keeping our economy safe outside the Eurozone;
- Making Europe more competitive to create jobs, and
- Dealing with the pressures of immigration which have become too great and preventing the abuse of free movement.
Of course the reforms are not enough for those whose agenda is to leave the EU altogether: no renegotiation would be sufficient for them. That is why they dismissed this deal before the talks had even started. But this was clearly a tough deal to negotiate.
These reforms meet the ambition set out by the Prime Minister in his Bloomberg Speech in 2013 and the commitments in our Election Manifesto last year. David Cameron is the first Prime Minister since 1975 to take powers back from the EU rather than give them away.
Under the Conservatives Britain’s economy has turned a corner, delivering growth and creating 2.3 million jobs. We should not take an unnecessary leap into the dark with Brexit and risk our economic success.
I believe that Conservatives should support the Prime Minister and his deal, and that it is in the national interest to remain in a reformed EU where Britain will be stronger, safer and better off.