Britain should negotiate a return to a “single market” relationship with the European Union, and then put it to a referendum, London Mayor Boris Johnson said yesterday.
Mr Johnson said this “pared down” relationship was both “essential and deliverable”, but added if voters did not like it they could opt to leave the EU altogether. It was “high time” that the British people had a chance to vote on the issue.
Britain should abandon the goal of being “at the heart of Europe” and instead demand a “common sense” relationship, which sees the UK involved in the single market and the decisions governing it, but preserves its freedom to set its own interest rates and taxes and abolishes much of the bureaucracy coming from Brussels, said the Mayor in a keynote speech in London’s Docklands financial centre.
Mr Johnson rejected warnings that a renegotiated relationship with the EU would turn the UK into a backwater, insisting that London would remain “the heart of the world economy”, trading freely not only with Europe but also the emerging economic giants like India and China.
And he set himself on a collision course with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne over their support for closer fiscal union within the eurozone, which he denounced as “anti-democratic.”