Reform EU or Britain quits – George Osborne lays down ultimatum

George Osborne will today deliver a stark warning to Britain’s European partners that the UK will leave the EU unless it embarks on whole-scale economic and political reform.

In a speech to a conference organised by the pro-reform Open Europe thinktank and the Fresh Start group of Tory MPs, Osborne will say: “There is a simple choice for Europe: reform or decline. Our determination is clear: to deliver the reform, and then let the people decide.”

Such a move would dismantle the rules of the European single market which were drawn up by Margaret Thatcher’s ally, Lord Cockfield, to prevent France imposing protectionist measures by denying member states a national veto.

Osborne will tell the conference: “The biggest economic risk facing Europe doesn’t come from those who want reform and renegotiation – it comes from a failure to reform and renegotiate.

“It is the status quo which condemns the people of Europe to an ongoing economic crisis and continuing decline.”

Osborne will say the EU suffers from a chronic lack of competitiveness and that the European economy has stalled over the last six years while the Indian economy has grown by a third and the Chinese economy by 50%.

He will say: “Make no mistake, our continent is falling behind. Look at innovation, where Europe’s share of world patent applications nearly halved in the last decade. Look at unemployment, where a quarter of young people looking for work can’t find it. Look at welfare.

“As Angela Merkel has pointed out, Europe accounts for just over 7% of the world’s population, 25% of its economy, and 50% of global social welfare spending. We can’t go on like this.”

Full article: Reform EU or Britain quits – George Osborne lays down ultimatum (The Guardian)

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