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

"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.

A Londoner's picture

On the first issue you make a reasonable point. On the second issue I think that there is much more to discuss. You are stating the de jure position but the de facto position is a eurozone and a non eurozone.

You talk about "our own plans" but I see little evidence of much unity even within the eurozone. Perhaps the UK provides a little distraction from the difficult position the EU finds itself in?

YY's picture

@Brittain Don't think of what the EU could do for you, but think of what Brittain can do for the EU!
You live on an Isle but that's not an excuse to be a moron.

Joe Thorpe's picture

We do plenty for the EU in 40 years of membership we have been a net contributor to the EU budget we have opened up our seas to be raped by European fishing industry we have taken in nearly 3 million of Europes unemployed while exporting about 2 million wealthy pensioners with secure incomes, capitol & insurance to various parts of Europe who aren't taking the locals jobs I accept there are a few hundred thousand also of working age that are working in the EU but most expats are pensioners or people who are financially secure or in other words the best kind of immigrant you could wish for, not many sitting on street corners playing crappy music on a squeeze box & looking for change in their McDonald's beaker then we have the great CSDP which is another excuse to squeeze more out of us & get us to provide security for the rest of the EU. We are building two huge carriers, the rest of the EU was supposed to be building support vessels for the great EU blue water fleet, where are they? we were conned again & then they say we need interoperability lol what for? apart from France the rest have nothing to be interoperable with lol you couldn't make this rubbish up, the EU is a cross between monty python & yes minister!

Starbuck's picture

According to 2014 UK figures, a low estimates for Brits living in Europe bring that numbers to at least 2.2 millions, with around 400 thousands being pensioners, and with many more being unregistered (which leaves more than 1.8 millions being workers in the EU).
it's also noticeable that as many Brits emigrated to the EU, as EU citizens emigrated to the UK.

Best regards,

Starbuck's picture

Here is a summary of European armed forces :

for comparison

EU (without UK) military expenditures €149bn vs UK €43.5 bn
EU (without UK) active military personnel 1380k vs UK 185k
EU (without UK) combat troops 360k vs UK 68k
EU (without UK) naval carriers 4 vs UK 0
EU (without UK) total battlefleet 485 vs UK 59
EU (without UK) total tank (inc armored vehicles and self-propelled guns) 54837 vs UK 6958
EU (without UK) total attack helicopters 272 vs UK 66
EU (without UK) total attack planes 1821 vs UK 222

.... and the list goes on

Joe Thorpe's picture

So stop whinging about the UK not getting involved in CSDP quite clearly the EU doesnt need the UK for its security on those figures & we dont need the EU do defend ourselves so everyone is happy.

GeorgeMc's picture

Joe you are correct in what you say, however, sitting with a calculator on Wikipedia and quoting figs minus the UK numbers, provides no in indepth analysis or understanding of the raw data. When quoting troop numbers we should take into account those who have a professional army and those who operate with conscripts. Germany is a case in point and is about to reduce their troop numbers big time. For a more balanced view in the same article the following section was conveniently ignored:

France and the United Kingdom
Map showing France (blue), the United Kingdom (red) and their overseas territories (some of which are home to military bases).
Further information: Power projection and The Lancaster House Treaties (2010)

The United Kingdom and France are both recognised nuclear-weapon states and represent the most dominant and capable military powers within the European Union. In 2010, the United Kingdom and France accounted for 45% of Europe's defence budget, 50% of its military capacity and 70% of all spending in military research and development.[15] The European Union Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has suggested that the The Lancaster House Treaties signed between Britain and France in 2010 may lay the foundations of a "new engine for European defence". Its publication also makes the observation that both are committed to preserving their expeditionary warfare capabilities: such as retaining the capacity to deploy a substantial number of troops during a high-intensity expeditionary operation, anywhere in the world.[16] The BBC reported that the Lancaster House Treaties will "pool resources" of these two nations' armed forces to maintain their status as major "global defence powers".

an european's picture

ah and all these 1.8 million Englanders have to find a new jobs in England which will more difficult when a lot of companies leaves Britain !
As stated 7000 workforces of Goldman Sachs (Not only) will leave London onto the city of Europe !
Count up ... but a little degradation of the financial system cannot hurt.. !
Concerning the military assets a minor issue because productions and inventions of them can be improved !
England out and maybe welcome Scotland...

A Londoner's picture

I have been puzzling over the claim that 1.8 million Brits work in the rest of the EU. It does not seem to make sense given the location of where the Brits are located There seems to be a correlation between sunshine and Brits with 1 million in Spain which suggest retirement.

The Migrationwatch site quotes Eurostats as indicating 400,000 Brits working in the EU which would make more sense. Even if we double the number to 800,000 that is still a million less than your estimate.

You arrived 1.8 million by deducting a figure of 400,000 for British pensioners from the total of 2.2 million. I think those pensioners must be drawing the state pension at 65 and it does not include all younger retired people drawing private pensions.

Joe Thorpe's picture

The majority of people I know that have homes around the costa del sol are either retired or have businesses in the UK that pay for their lifestyle over here. These figures are just Eurobubble & propaganda to frighten people into believing they need an umbilical chord to the EU

Starbuck's picture

@a Londoner

I don't mind arguing about official or properly researched figures (in this case, the British government's ones), but I will certainly not take seriously anything that comes from a right-wing astroturf lobby group such MigrationWatch

or as their wikipedia entry states (

"MigrationWatch UK is an immigration and asylum think-tank, which describes itself as independent and non-political, but which has been characterised by some commentators and academics as a right-wing pressure group"

"Migration Matters, an organisation pressing for increased public debate of migration, stated in February 2013 that "Migration Watch UK are not an independent thinktank, or academic body, but a lobbying and campaigning organisation that is currently engaged in a campaign entitled 'No to 70 Million'""

"An August 2002 editorial in The Independent concerning the MigrationWatch prediction of two million migrants in the following decade carried the title "A nasty little group playing an old, and unwelcome, trick" and stated that "Migration Watch is, of course, no think tank, but a pressure group with a distinctly unpleasant agenda".[63] It has been argued that MigrationWatch's messages "can be taken advantage of by people with Islamophobia and prejudice".[64] The accuracy of the group's research has also been questioned. Academic Richard De Zoysa, for instance, argues that MigrationWatch's predictions of future immigration are exaggerated,[60] while David Robinson, Professor of Housing and Public Policy at Sheffield Hallam University, argues that the group's assertion that immigrants are placing strain on social housing lacks evidence.[65] Economist Philippe Legrain has claimed that "MigrationWatch's xenophobic prejudice is causing it to twist the truth" about the impact of immigration on the employment prospects of British people"

"Academics Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson, however, state that "we believe that the evidence used by MigrationWatchUK is questionable, yet the organisation and its arguments have received prominence in migration debates and have assumed an authority – not least because of the profiles of its highly connected chair and advisory council – which we consider dangerous if there is no similar authority presenting counterarguments""

"In August 2010, Sally Bercow, a Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate and wife of Conservative MP John Bercow, argued on a Sky News newspaper review that a Daily Express article based on MigrationWatch research was "oversimplifying" and constituted "dangerous propaganda". As a result, MigrationWatch and Andrew Green threatened to take libel action against Bercow.[74] After she instructed the lawyer David Allen Green to defend the threatened action, MigrationWatch dropped its threat."

"In 2014, Jonathan Portes of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research complained to the Press Complaints Commission that articles in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph about the net amount of tax paid by Eastern European migrants, which were based on MigrationWatch statistics, were inaccurate. The two newspapers amended the articles in response"

that's the difference between being fed tabloid trash and looking at reality ;)

Best regards,

A Londoner's picture

OK. But to return to the issue I raised .

You are arguing that the great majority of Brits are in Europe for employment reasons so let me ask the question I posed before. If they are going to work you would expect them to be driven by job vacancies and wage rates. Why then are they heading for the sunshine when the vacancies etc are in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland?

A Londoner's picture

OK. But to return to the issue I raised .

You are arguing that the great majority of Brits are in Europe for employment reasons so let me ask the question I posed before. If they are going to work you would expect them to be driven by job vacancies and wage rates. Why then are they heading for the sunshine when the vacancies etc are in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland?

A Londoner's picture

OK. But to return to the issue I raised .

You are arguing that the great majority of Brits are in Europe for employment reasons so let me ask the question I posed before. If they are going to work you would expect them to be driven by job vacancies and wage rates. Why then are they heading for the sunshine when the vacancies etc are in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland?

an european's picture

Bye Bye Philip Hammond!
See you over there .....

El Pluribus Unum