UK's new foreign secretary reiterates EU exit threat

Philip Hammond speaking at Conservative Party Conference 2012 [Photo: Conservatives / Flickr]
Philip Hammond speaking at Conservative Party Conference 2012 [Photo: 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.

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


Gerry's picture

"If there is no change in the way Europe is governed"... will you for once just tell us what you want us to do! If there is no change in the balance of competencies... what the hell is that supposed to mean! Does anybody know?
So Hammond is going to "prepare to renegotiate" over the next ten months, and then he will make a recommendation to the British people??? This man must have a rocket up his arse, nobody can stop him. The big question is, where is he going?

Mike Parr's picture

Apart from hypocrisy, the Tory-vermin also have a monopoly on waffle (no not the belgian delicacy) - the ability to talk in vague terms 100% of the time. This is a congenital condition ditto hypocrisy. If the EU is daft enough to agree to the UK's request (re-negotiation) whatever happens it will not be enough for vermin like Hammond.

Joe Thorpe's picture

Watch Marr Show on the iplayer then you will know what he said

Antoine's picture

@Hammond and Thomson Reuters,

Leave gently before we expulse you.

an european's picture

I completely agree with you !

an european's picture

"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"

About competencies ..Let's make things right ! The European Union hasn't even a Confederated government !
Would rather say they merely have bunch of regulations ...perhaps getting back theses regulations will save England and appease it's hypocritos .
Even Scots are tired about their dictating Westminster behavior ..but that doesn't matter on some small checkered politicians . They lost all sense of reality for the leave of the European Union !

Southron's picture

The UK is a very important part of Europe - effort should be made to accommodate its needs, but the UK also needs to understand that negotiation is a two way street.
You can't just say "we want the good parts, and not the bad ones", because that would set a precedent that would tear the EU apart, so no one is going to accept that.

If, to my sadness, the UK wants a more distant participation in the EU, we should be fine with that. But we should also detail that there will be costs for the UK - more importantly, this must be said to the UK people, so that they take informed decisions.

an european's picture

What the UK want is !
Free of immigrants as well E.U. Citizens !
Wont never be possible with free trade !
The E.U. has a fundamental human rights for the Free Trade which is free movements of people ..of goodsetc...!
Most people in Britain doesn't interests how important this and their economy is besides Ukip !!
It's either Full in or Full out in 2017 if Cameron re-elected!

I don't think the E.U. will itself breach their fundamental rights for a "special" negotiation because THAT would be a fundamental breach of liberty !

A Londoner's picture

In the interview Phillip Hammond talks about two things.
1. The transfer of decisions from Brussels back to the nation states.
2. The relationship between the eurozone and the wider EU.
I accept that he is not very specific about the powers to be transferred back but the general themes are very clear.

Eurochild's picture

1. UK ministries already conducte a "comprehensive audit" to suggest which powers should be "repatriated" from Brussels. Except, these audits found that the idea that Brussels has "taken" powers from Britain is false and, on the contrary, that being in the EU was of overwhelming benefit to Britain. So, the reports were quietly shelved.

Remember all this?

Of course, the Daily Mail takes the view that the resulting audits were a whitewash - because the UK government wanted to spend all that money and time to disprove its claims and make it look foolish...

You cannot make wild claims and threats about "taking powers back from Brussels" without being specific. Otherwise, this is simply a bigoted attack on one's partners for purely domestic consumption.

2. There is no group of non-eurozone countries. The eurozone is effectively the EU. All countries will eventually join the eurozone, aside from two which have opt-outs, the UK and Denmark. Except, the Danish opt-out is not as complete as the British one, the krona is pegged to the euro and the current Danish prime minister (Helle Thorning-Shmidt, who Cameron thinks has similar views to him when she doesn't) says that Denmark should have a referendum to abolish its opt-out.

Even if some countries want to delay eurozone membership for an indefinite period this does not mean that their position towards it is the same as the UK's. Moreover, the number of countries outside the eurozone will be progressively decreasing. The idea that there are two groups in the EU - the eurozone and non-eurozone ones - is a fallacy.

But, to be honest, those of us in the eurozone don't care if Britain wants to create a barrier between it and us. Let the UK be on its own in a 3-speed Europe - at least that way it will not be able to block the rest of us from getting on with our own plans.