John Major shows up the limitations of Fox

Fox: our European relationship should be based on trade, not politics
Liam Fox, the former cabinet minister, has claimed the British public
was ‘sold a pup’ on the European Union and should take advantage of
the Euro crisis to return to a trading relationship.

By Rosa Prince, Online Political Editor

16 Sep 2012

Describing the Eurozone as a “great economic European own goal,” he
predicted that some nations would respond to the current instability
by drawing closer politically and economically, and suggested that
others such as the United Kingdom must shift their focus back to
trade.

The former Tory leadership candidate said that “Eurocrats” were
constantly attempting to draw Europe closer together at “endless
summits”.

If European bureaucrats continued to insist on closer political and
economic union across the EU, Dr Fox said, then they should be
prepared for the British public to decide that they wanted to leave
altogether.

Speaking on Sky’s Murnaghan show, Dr Fox said: “First of all, people
in Britain voted to join a Common Market, they didn’t vote for
political union … so you can have a big argument about whether they
were sold a pup or not; in my view they were.

“I think that what we now need to recognise is that the Europe that is
now beginning to emerge, the Europe of ever closer political and
economic union to protect some of the Eurozone countries, is not the
Europe that either we joined or we agreed to as treaties were passed.

“If they want a new European settlement that’s fine, so do we, and I
think most people in Britain want to go back to the European
relationship that was about economics and trade and not about
interference in our political life.

“I think it is very clear now that there is a very wide consensus in
this country that there has to be a change in the relationship.

“Right across the political spectrum, certainly across the
Conservative party, there’s an appetite for a renewed relationship, so
what I think we need to do is first of all determine what that settled
relationship would be.

“I would want a minimum one, a customs union and a single market but
that’s a decision we have to come to.”

While the situation in the Eurozone remained in flux, Dr Fox, a former
defence secretary, said that he did not support a referendum on
Britain’s role within Europe. His position echoes that of David
Cameron, who has said that the time is “not yet” right for a
referendum.

But in future, the MP said, Britain should seek a new relationship
similar to the membership of the European Common Market which UK
voters agreed to in the 1975, and confirm the move in a referendum.

“I would like to see us put in our manifesto for the next election a
time that we would set for our partners to renegotiate that with us
with a referendum at the end, and I think we should make it very clear
to our partners that if they give us what we want, then we would stay
in Europe on that basis of a common market.

“We should make very clear what it is first of all that we want to
renegotiate. My view would be a common market and nothing more.

“If we get what we want we’ll recommend that we stay in on that basis
but if they say to us ‘we will tell Britain what its relationship must
be,’ you have to be willing to accept the possibility that the British
people would choose to leave.

“That is leaving the fate and the destiny of the United Kingdom in the
hands of the British people, that’s the right thing to do.”

Sir John Major, the former prime minister whose time in office was
marred by divisions within the Conservative Party over Europe, said
that the opportunity would arise within the next decade to solve the
“running sore” of membership of the EU.

Predicting that the Eurozone crisis would result in a new core group
which would form a “federal” state, he said that the UK should take
advantage of the new order to renegotiate its relationship with the
EU.

“What you’re now seeing out of failure, not success, is the Euro core
looking to integrate further, much more towards a federal structure,”
he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr show.

“If the Eurozone – as I believe – continue to integrate over the next
10 years – this isn’t going to happen overnight – within 10 years
you’re going to have a Euro core that is to all intents and purposes
federal.

“If that happens to a portion, a core of the European Union, it
changes that core’s relationship with the rest of the European Union.

“And if they do that, the rest of the European Union may feel that it
is appropriate to change their relationship with the core and with the
European Union as a whole.

“I think that offers an opportunity for us to clean up one of the long
running sores of British politics, which is the nature of our
relationship with Europe.”