Though we should be mindful of charges of “blackmail”, the UK is in a strong position to renegotiate the terms of its EU membership. The Eurozone’s drive for more integration is changing the rules of the game, and requires changes to EU treaties, over which the UK has a veto. We are not adopting the euro, so we are entitled to make our own demands as part of the inevitable new constitutional settlement in Europe. The UK is a major contributor to the EU budget, the EU’s balance of trade with the UK is in surplus, and we are one of Europe’s leading military powers. The loss of the UK would mean the EU giving up on its own global role. Countries like Sweden, Finland, Holland, Denmark and, crucially, Germany fear the loss of a valued liberal voice in favour of free trade. And many of these countries have their own ambitions to reduce the areas that are subject to centralised EU control.
Chris Heaton-Harris is Conservative MP for Daventry.
Proposals for Britain to unilaterally repatriate powers back from Europe are problematic. Importantly, Britain has no realistic vision for its future place within the EU, and no convincing geopolitical strategy. Allies must consent to repatriate powers, but there are no plans to create, let alone deliver, the broad consensus required to achieve this. The UK has allies in Europe – including Germany – that would sympathise with us if we had a positive policy. Many of the powers that Britain seeks to repatriate could also be achieved by negotiations, rather than by simply demanding a treaty change. Proposals to unilaterally break treaty obligations are the political equivalent of a debt default, undermining the UK’s reputation as a state which abides by the rule of law. It would kill the single market.
Peter Wilding is a director at the Centre for British Influence Through Europe.