In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts reports that I called for the UK to quit the EU altogether at PMQs yesterday. Some colleagues also thought I said “leave” not “lead”. Hansard reports my intended words:
Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is time for this country to lead Europe into the hope and potential of a new post-bureaucratic age?
The Prime Minister: I think that there are opportunities for Britain in Europe, and we should start from the premise that it is in Britain’s interest to be in the single market. We are a trading nation, so we need those markets open, and to be able to determine the rules of those markets. As Europe changes, of course there will be opportunities, but the first priority at the end of this week must be to ensure that the eurozone crisis, which is having such a bad effect on our economy, is resolved. At the same time, however, we should be very clear about the British national interest: safeguarding the single markets and the financial services, and looking out for the interests of UK plc.
I was quoting the Prime Minister. He made the following remarks in Prague in 2007 in relation to the EU, according to the BBC:
And he added: “It is the last gasp of an outdated ideology, a philosophy that has no place in our new world of freedom, a world which demands that we fight this bureaucratic over-reach and lead Europe into the hope and potential of a new, post-bureaucratic age.”
I agree that the philosophy of the EU has no place in our new world of freedom. What Europe needs – free trade, peace and fundamental liberties – could be arbitrated under a much more limited institution such as the Council of Europe.