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UK’s new foreign secretary reiterates EU exit threat

UK & Europe

UK’s new foreign secretary reiterates EU exit threat

"The reality is there will be a measure of uncertainty continuing right up to the conclusion of our negotiations with the EU," Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said. [Conservatives / Flickr]

Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond reiterated his position from two years ago that if Britain does not get to renegotiate its membership, it should leave the European Union.

In an interview with Andrew Marr of the BBC, Hammond reiterated his earlier stance that if the European Union failed to change and to agree to new terms for Britain’s membership, he would rather leave the bloc.

“If there is no change at all in the way Europe is governed, no change in the balance of competences between the nation states and the European Union, no resolution of the challenge of how the Eurozone can succeed and coexist with the non-Eurozone – that is not a Europe that can work for Britain in the future, so there must be change, there must be renegotiation.”

Hammond said his government would put it to the British people to decide once there is substantive renegotiation and substantive change in Europe that addresses the concerns that Britain has along with the needs of Europe in a modern world.

“So my job now is to pursue that renegotiation – to prepare for it…over the next nine, 10 months…,” Hammond told the BBC.

He said he would make his recommendation to the British people after a renegotiation is carried out.

“We’re all in government in the same place on Europe. We all believe that the status quo is not an acceptable way to run Europe in the future.”

Hammond was appointed foreign secretary last week in a surprise development. William Hague, Britain’s most senior diplomat for the past four years, voluntarily stood down allowing Prime Minister David Cameron to appoint him.

Cameron has promised to try to reshape Britain’s EU ties if re-elected next year before giving voters a membership referendum, something opinion polls show could be close.


A potential British exit from the European Union came to the top of the political agenda in January 2013, when Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain must use the upheaval created by the eurozone crisis to forge a new relationship with the European Union.

>> Read: Cameron takes gamble with in/out EU referendum pledge

Britain has negotiated a number of opt-outs from key EU policy areas since its accession in 1973.

The country is not part of the eurozone and has not signed the free-border Schengen Treaty and does not want to abide by a number of EU police and judicial cooperation rules.


  • May 2015: UK to hold general election
  • 2017: EU membership referendum proposed by David Cameron