Top Tory minister dismisses 'fantasy' of Britain breaking away from Brussels but staying in single marketHome Office minister Damian Green uses major speech to ridicule 'fantastic vision' of EuroscepticsHe warns foreign investors would shun Britain if outside the EU
12:40 GMT, 12 December 2012
Home Office minister Damian Green warned it is a 'fantasy' to think Britain could opt out of EU laws but still be part of the single market
Hopes of Britain dismantling ties with the European Union to a simple common market are a ‘fantasy’ a senior Tory minister will claim today.
Home Office minister Damian Green takes aim at Conservatives including Boris Johnson who believe Britain could opt out of almost all parts of the EU but retain access to the common market.
The intervention is likely to escalate the turmoil in the Tory party over Europe, as David Cameron prepares to set out his plan for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the euro bloc.
Eurosceptics in the Conservative party have begun to rally round the idea of Britain renegotiating its ties with Brussels, opting out of many EU laws but still benefiting from the single market.
London Mayor Mr Johnson has said it was both ‘essential and deliverable’ for Britain to return to a ‘single market’ relationship with the EU.
He also called for a referendum on the new deal, with voters able to opt to leave the EU altogether.
But in a major speech today, Mr Green accuses backers of the idea of being unrealistic.
He is expected to say: ‘There is a fantastic vision of an EU which remains a single market, including the UK, but which in all other respects allows the UK to be outside.
‘This is a fantastic vision precisely because it is a fantasy. What is in this for those on the other side of the negotiation’
He warns the British economy would suffer if left outside the EU, with foreign investors less likely to do business in the UK.
David Cameron is due to give a major speech on Britain's relationship with Europe, saying he is taking a 'tantric' approach to policy making, adding: 'It will be even better when it does eventually come'
‘Ask yourself the simple question. Would we be more or less likely to negotiate a good deal for UK-based companies wishing to trade with Europe if we had pulled out of the EU,' he will say in a speech to the Bright Blue think tank.
'And ask yourself another simple question. If you were a company in China or India wishing to set up a base in Europe, would you be more or less likely to choose Britain if we had withdrawn’
London Mayor Boris Johnson has said it was both 'essential and deliverable' for Britain to return to a 'single market' relationship with the EU
Mr Green said Britain should ‘stay in and fight’ for major reforms to the EU, not head for the exit.
‘The EU is imperfect, irritating, and needs to change badly. There are a number of areas where this Government is fighting to achieve this change. Staying in and fighting is the best way to meet our economic needs.’
Mr Cameron was expected to give a major speech on his this month, but there is growing speculation it will be delayed until the New Year.
This week he apologised for the delay, claiming the government's policy making was like tantric sex and would be worth the wait.
‘This is a tantric approach to policy-making. It will be even better when it does eventually come…’ the Prime Minister said.
He has indicated he wants to bring back powers from Brussels, and put the new deal to the voters in a referendum.
But he could be forced into holding a vote earlier, if Eurozone countries demand a new treaty on closer economic union. An EU official said a referendum is ‘inevitable’.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schuble, has warned Britain could be left with ‘no voice in Europe’ if it continues to move away from Brussels.
The remarks were made at a private dinner with a senior British diplomat and several other guests.
‘Quite a lot of people were struck by how harsh he was on the UK,” one source who heard Mr Schuble’s warning told The Times. ‘He expressed his admiration for the UK … but [added] that they are just wrong about Europe, they are wrong about the future.’