THE UK needs a “minimum of uncertainty” over its membership of the EU, Vince Cable told MPs yesterday amid fears investors could be put off by the Prime Minister’s promise of an in/out referendum.
The Liberal Democrat Business Secretary said David Cameron’s efforts to reform the EU were “necessary”, but insisted the UK should remain a member of the organisation.
He told the Commons there was a need for radical reform, but it was “desirable for economic growth” to remain inside the EU.
The Prime Minister has promised that if a Conservative government is elected in 2015 he would renegotiate the UK’s relationship with Brussels and put continued membership of the EU to a public vote in 2017.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “Already companies in numerous sectors, from Virgin to Siemens, BMW to BT, accounting for 170,000 direct jobs, have reiterated the importance of our continued membership of the EU to their businesses.”
In a leaked letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Cable wrote that the government must “build more certainty and confidence for business to invest”. Mr Umunna asked if Mr Cameron’s announcement had “helped or hindered” that aim.
Mr Cable said: “The Prime Minister’s pressure for reform in the EU is necessary . . . But I think we are all agreed that we need a minimum of uncertainty to attract inward investment to this country and I think it’s incumbent on all of us who want jobs in Britain to send that very positive message.”