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The Prime Minister's Speech: Coalition Manager or Statesman?

    Ahead of David Cameron's speech on Britain's relationship with the European Union, four influential voices give their opinion on what the Prime Minister's speech should contain.

    They are:

    • Lord Blackwell; CPS Board Member and former Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit 1995-97

    "Will the speech set out a serious agenda for the UK? Or will it just be political management, attempting to triangulate between a range of different audiences."

    • Jon Moulton; CPS Board Member and prominent Venture Capitalist:

    "Our motivation must simply be the long term prosperity of the UK population."

    "Cameron must go for the return of all powers, and then an ‘opt-in’ relationship in which we participate on a case by case basis. Only trade would be subject to compulsory rules."

    • Lord Vinson of Roddam Dene; CPS Founding Member

    "Democracy lies at the heart of nationhood. Yet the political class deny it to their own nation"

    Lord Blackwell

    "The real test for David Cameron's speech is whether it faces up to the reality that the EU is changing as a result of the Eurozone crisis - and sets out a serious agenda to take lead in defining a new relationship for the UK - or whether it is just political management, attempting to triangulate between a range of different audiences. The test will be whether - and how - he addresses the following points:
     
    1. Will he acknowledge that the increasing economic and political integration of the Eurozone states - a necessary condition for preserving a single currency - inevitably implies a two tier Europe? The question is not whether we should have a different relationship to the Eurozone states, but what shape that relationship might take.

    2. Will he be bold enough to approach those negotiations not from the weak demander position of 'what powers we can repatriate', but rather from the more positive stance of what kind of cooperation and links do we want to sustain as a nation state outside the Eurozone, and outside the move to ever closer political integration? Our EU colleagues have a shared interest in defining a positive relationship that keeps us engaged in common programmes where we have a mutual interest.

    3. Will he be willing to confront the scaremongering of those who claim our trade with the EU will be put at risk - recognising that, while there may be pros and cons of staying within the single market regulations, the backstop of WTO free trade agreements - as well as self interest in their exports to the UK- would prevent the Eurozone countries threatening trade barriers.

    4. Will he ensure serious engagement by making it clear that if he fails to reach an accommodation that meets the needs of the UK for a looser relationship within the EU, the only alternative will be a UK exit? 

    5. Will he back up this negotiating stance with a cast iron commitment that, having got the best agreement he can for the UK, he will hold a referendum to offer the choice of staying in on these terms or leaving altogether?
     
    If we can respond positively to these questions after his speech we can have some hope that we are truly entering a new phase of our relationship with the EU. If not, the speech is unlikely to be remembered."

    Jon Moulton

    "The UK has two very bad scenarios it could land in.

    We could fold into a United States of Europe with an overbearing government structure likely to lead to long term relative economic weakness compared to the more vibrant economies of the rest of the world.

    We could so annoy the other EU members in the coming months that we get thrown out and they then erect trade and tariff barriers to our trading with Europe which would inevitably be a severe short and medium term problem for a good part of UK’s industry.

    We should avoid both of these scenarios.

    What we need is free trade with the EU, allowing market pressures to dictate social and regulatory policy rather than Brussels.

    We probably desire some other forms of cooperation; exchange of criminal information, border control, air traffic control, common pharmaceutical standards and so on. But most commercial, financial, agricultural, social and regional policy should be the preserve of the UK.

    Our motivation must simply be the long term prosperity of the UK population."

    David Heathcoat-Amory

    "The essential ingredient in the Prime Minister’s speech must be boldness and courage. There is a persistent notion, even in Eurosceptic circles, that all can be done by traditional negotiation, helped by a friendly German government. In truth, it will require a huge political effort, provoking headlines like, ‘UK isolated; abandoned by US; German ultimatum’.

    Beware a complex set of negotiating aims, which the public will not understand, leading to a muddled compromise. Instead, Cameron must go for the return of all powers, and then an ‘opt-in’ relationship in which we participate on a case by case basis. Only trade would be subject to compulsory rules.

    We can be in a trading relationship with the EU, with strong political cooperation added: call it Trade Plus. It’s a high bid, but on our side is the evident failure of the EU elite and their currency, our ability to block further treaty change, and the fact that there is a solid majority in this country for fundamental reform.

    It would also point the way towards a better Europe, in which the present old fashioned, centralized, high cost structure gives way to a dynamic, self governing model, able to compete in the modern world.

    That would truly elevate our Prime Minister from coalition manager to statesman, and secure him a second term."

    Lord Vinson of Roddam Dene

    “We, Great Britain, have spent billions to help give self determination to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya,and so on, because democracy lies at the heart of nationhood.

    Yet the political class deny it to their own nation, except for Scotland. We need it too! The democratic deficit that lies at the heart of the EU will lead to its demise. These are the wider issues the CBI and others totally fail to see at present - and is why they have been so wrong before.“

    Date added: Thursday 17th January 2013