Chancellor George Osborne: Links with the European Union should be based on free trade

James Nickerson
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Emmanuel Macron and George Osbrone are both looking for a "win-win deal" (Source: Getty)

As negotiations between the UK and European Union around terms of the UK's membership continue, George Osborne has said the relationship should be based around free trade.

Read more: Osborne says France and UK can strike deal

The economic benefits are key to EU membership, and should therefore be at the heart of renegotiation, the chancellor said in an interview with The Telegraph.

Britain has other interests at a European level. For example, the climate change talks that are happening in Paris at the end of this year. The security work that we do with the French.

But for Britain, I always felt that the central attraction of European Union membership was the economic one. And that’s why it’s so important to fix the economic aspects of our relationship if we are going to convince people and convince ourselves that it is right for Britain to remain in the EU.

This comes as Osborne met French economy minister Emmanuel Macron in renegotiation talks, before the UK's anticipated referendum on whether to stay in the EU.

The chancellor, who will help lead Britain’s attempts at renegotiation with the bloc, said “fixing” the economic aspects of the UK’s relationship with the EU is vital to "convincing ourselves that it is right for Britain to remain in the EU”.

Prime Minister David Cameron is hoping to renegotiate Britain’s membership with the EU before holding a referendum before the end of 2017. However, MPs have warned that the referendum could be unfair if ministers seek to influence the vote outcome.

Read more: MPs warn EU referendum could be unfair if ministers do not respect purdah rules

The chancellor said he knew some of his Conservative peers would vote to leave the EU regardless of renegotiation, but is confident that if renegotiation is successful the British public would vote to “be in Europe, not run by Europe.”

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