David Cameron’s renegotiation of the UK’s membership of the EU has left the country “vulnerable” because it surrendered powers for Britain to block further integration in the eurozone, 11 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, including Peterborough’s Stewart Jackson, have claimed.
The group, led by former ministers Peter Lilley and Liam Fox and ex-shadow home secretary David Davis, pointed to clauses in last month’s agreement pledging that Britain “shall not impede the implementation of legal acts directly linked to the functioning of the euro area” and “will not create obstacles to, but facilitate” further deepening of economic and monetary union.
At the time, Mr Cameron highlighted the deal’s acknowledgement that participation in economic and monetary union was “voluntary”, as well as a pledge that the eurozone will “respect the rights and competences” of non-participating member states like the UK.
But in a letter to the Times, the 11 Eurosceptic MPs said this had diverted attention from the Prime Minister’s “big concession” over eurozone integration.
They wrote: “We surrendered Britain’s one remaining bargaining lever: our right to give or withhold consent to future EU treaties (and some directives) required to convert the eurozone into a political union.
“We could have used that leverage to get powers devolved to the UK in return for agreeing to eurozone integration - and to block measures harmful to us. That is no longer possible.”
And they warned: “The UK would be very vulnerable if we remain in the EU on these terms.
“While our partners sensed that Britain might leave the EU and could impede further integration, they respected our interests. But a vote to remain would signal that we lack the will to govern ourselves. Our interests would henceforth be far down their concerns.”
As well as Stewart Jackson MP, also signing the letter were Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry), David Nuttall (Bury North), Henry Smith (Crawley), Bernard Jenkin (Harwich & North Essex), Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset), Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) and Tom Pursglove (Corby).