Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a keynote speech that he wants Britain to remain in the European Union (EU) — but doesn’t want to see the country run by Europe.
Speaking at the 50th anniversary annual dinner of Britain’s leading business organisation, the CBI, Osborne fired the first salvo in what will be a critical debate for the newly elected Conservative government, Xinhua reported.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a national in-out referendum across Britain, giving more than 40 million men and women the first chance since 1975 to decide the nation’s future membership of the EU.
Speaking to an audience of business leaders in London’s Grosvenor House, Osborne said: “We need to confront some hard truths about Europe. The problem of making the single currency (eurozone) work is inevitably drawing its members toward ever-closer integration. We don’t want to be part of that integration.”
Giving a big clue about what he and the prime minister will tell Britain’s European partners, Osborne said: “Our position — which I think is shared by the majority of British people and a majority of British businesses — is that we want Britain to be in Europe, but not run by Europe. That is what we’ll be fighting for. ”
He said the challenge for the British government is to ensure that the single European market is protected, with the EU continuing to work in the interests of all 28 member states, including Britain.
“We want to ensure Europe is a place where businesses invest and jobs are created. Yet the continent is sleepwalking towards a future where it has priced itself out of the global economy, with its rules and regulations, financial services legislation and red tape,” he said.
He cautioned people about the avalanche of information and stories they will face as the euro debate swings into action. “The real negotiations will be carried out at the highest level and in private,” Osborne said.
“I want to work with the British business community to ensure we succeed in this vital task of reforming our relationship with Europe so it works for the working people of our country,” he added.