Britain Will Vote to Leave EU without Treaty Change, Philip Hammond Says
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Britain will vote to leave the European Union without major reforms to its membership, Philip Hammond has warned as he said the government will demand treaty change.
In a warning shot ahead of David Cameron's trip to European capitals, the British Foreign Secretary told EU leaders to stop "obsessing" about the principle of "ever closer union".
He also became the most senior figure in the government to say the vote on Britain's EU membership could take place next year.
It comes with the Prime Minister meeting the leaders of France, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands for talks in a 48-hour diplomatic blitz.
Changes to the EU treaties has become one of the most contentious elements of Cameron's renegotiation aims, according to The Daily Telegraph.
He has been advised treaty change is needed to secure changes to immigration and access to welfare, but European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the issue is off the table.
Such changes would need to be ratified by every one of the EU's 28 member states and could trigger a string of referendums across the Continent.
Hammond reiterated that Britain wanted treaty change and warned the Britons will vote to leave Europe unless major concessions are agreed.
"The Prime Minister's made clear that some of the demands that we are making will require treaty change to make them irreversible and substantive and make them proof against challenge in the European courts. Many other parts of the agenda will not require treaty change, but some of them will,” he said.
Hammond also said: "We expect our European Union partners to engage with us in delivering a package that will enable the British people to decide that they think Britain’s future is best delivered inside the European Union."
The Foreign Secretary said Britain needed “proper protection” as a non-Eurozone country and voters would demand they are “not ridden over roughshod” by Europe.
"Stop obsessing about institutional structures and ideas like ever closer union which, frankly, look like yesterday's agenda in an increasingly competitive global economy where Europe has to fight to protect the standards of living of our people," he said.
It comes after it emerged people who want Britain to stay in the European Union will be able to campaign for a "yes" vote in the in-out referendum promised by David Cameron.
Downing Street has disclosed that Britons will be asked in the referendum if they wish to "remain a member of the European Union".
Cameron has also suggested that he wants EU Referendum Bill to pass through Parliament in "extra quick time".