We risk being like Norway if we quit EU, says Cameron – PM warns Britain will be 'unable to influence laws'He warns: 'We will have absolutely no say over
the rules'Barroso: 'Britain needs to make up its mind whether it
wants to stay in the EU'
07:56 GMT, 11 December 2012
David Cameron insisted he did not want Britain to leave the EU, at a lunch in Westminster
Britain faces being ‘governed by fax’ from Brussels and reduced to the standing of Norway if it leaves the European Union but stays in the single market, the Prime Minister said yesterday.
At a lunch in Westminster David Cameron insisted he did not want Britain to leave the EU.
And he warned the ‘Norway option’ of simply having access to the single market would lead to ‘government by fax’, with Britain unable to influence the EU’s laws.
He said: ‘I don’t want Britain to leave the EU. I think that we benefit crucially from the single market and I think it is worth understanding what leaving would involve.
‘You can be like Norway, and you can have full access to the single market, but you have absolutely no say over the rules of that market.’
Norway is a member of the European Economic Area.
This grants it access to the single market, but it is obliged to respect the laws of the free trade area.
It last held a referendum on full EU membership in 1994, when it was narrowly rejected, but anti-EU attitudes have hardened in recent years.
Mr Cameron said there was now a ‘settled will’ in Britain for ‘quite significant reform’ of the relationship with the EU.
But his comments came as the president of the European Commission said Britain needs to make up its mind whether it wants to stay in the EU or not.
In a sign of growing EU frustration with Britain, Jose Manuel Barroso effectively warned Tory critics of Brussels to put up or shut up – suggesting the UK should quit if it was not ‘comfortable’ with the rules of the 27-nation club. Mr Barroso said: ‘It is good for the EU to have Britain on board, provided of course Britain is comfortable with the situation.
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‘No country is obliged to be in the EU – we are a free association of free countries.
it is up to Britain to decide if it wants to keep its position or not.’
His comments will pile pressure on Mr Cameron to give in to demands
from Tory MPs and stage an in/out referendum on Europe.
in a blow to the Prime Minister’s strategy of renegotiating the terms
of Britain’s membership, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom
yesterday warned the UK would not necessarily be allowed to retain EU
co-operation on some areas of justice policy if it opted out of others.
Tory MP Douglas Carswell welcomed Mr Barroso’s intervention, adding: ‘When even the arch euro-federalist Jose Manuel Barroso realises we need to make up our minds about membership of the EU it is extraordinary that the Government continues to run scared of a referendum.’
Former Tory defence secretary Liam Fox argued Mr Cameron’s renegotiation strategy would not be seen as credible unless it included the threat to leave.
He said: ‘We should set out what our relationship ought to be and make clear to our European partners that if a consensus can be reached, our continued membership of the EU could be the recommended course of action.
‘Equally, if we were not given such assurances, then we have to be clear that the British people might well decide to leave.’
In a speech, Dr Fox added: ‘To be frank, if the choice is between the current trajectory towards ever closer union and leaving, then I would choose to leave, albeit reluctantly. If the choice is between a looser, more economic relationship and leaving, then I would choose to stay.’
Mr Cameron also said yesterday a deal on the deadlocked negotiations over the EU’s long-term budget was only achievable if Brussels backed down on its demands for an inflation-busting increase.