EU chief on new collision course with Tory critics

THE HEAD of the European Commission yesterday pressed for sweeping new powers over member states, just as the UK seeks to take more control back from Brussels.

Jose Manuel Barroso said the bloc “will not get away with half-hearted solutions any more, and half-integrated institutions will no longer do”.

“We want to put all the elements on the table even if some of them may sound like political science fiction today,” he told a conference on the EU’s next steps. “They will be reality in a few years’ time.”

He argued that European states’ financial interdependence, as highlighted during the sovereign debt crisis, should be supported by closer political ties and a banking union.

His tone contrasted with that of Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, who last night told Channel 4 News that failure to introduce a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU would split the party and cause MPs to defect to Ukip.

Fellow Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg also suggested Ukip leader Nigel Farage could be a potential deputy prime minister in coalition with the Conservatives. Their discussions follow a declaration by former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson that he would vote to leave the EU, saying it had become a “bureaucratic monstrosity”. Deputy PM Nick Clegg hit back, saying this would put British jobs at risk and leave the UK ostracised from the rest of the world.