David Cameron faces Commons questions about his stance on an EU referendum, as a Tory ex-minister calls for a loosening of links
6:31am UK, Monday 02 July 2012
Britain should look at how to take powers back from the EU, the former defence secretary will say later – as David Cameron faces questions over the future of the UK's membership.
Liam Fox will be giving his first speech since leaving the Cabinet earlier this year.
He is expected to say "life outside the EU holds no terror" – and that the UK should seek a looser relationship with Europe.
In a speech, the Tory MP will say: "I would like to see Britain negotiate a new relationship on the basis that, if we achieved it and our future relationship was economic rather than political, we would advocate acceptance in a referendum of this new dynamic.
"If, on the other hand, others would not accede to our requests for a rebalancing in the light of the response to the euro crisis, then we would recommend rejection and potential departure from the EU."
Mr Cameron is expected to face more questions on his stance in the Commons when he makes a statement to MPs about the EU summit in Brussels last week, during which eurozone leaders agreed a bailout deal for their debt-laden banks.
Nearly 100 Conservative MPs have written to Mr Cameron urging him to make it a legal commitment to hold a poll on the EU during the next parliament but Mr Cameron has been cautious about how the issue would be put to people.
On Sunday he said he was willing to call a referendum.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he acknowledged that the country's position within the evolving EU must have the "full-hearted support" of Britons.
He said: "There is more to come - further moves, probably further treaties - where we can take forward our interests, safeguard the single market and stay out of a federal Europe.
"How do we take the British people with us on this difficult and complicated journey? How do we avoid the wrong paths of either meekly accepting the status quo or giving up altogether and preparing to leave?
"As we get closer to the end point we will need to consider how best to get the full-hearted support of the British people, whether it is in a general election or a referendum.
"As I have said, for me the two words 'Europe' and 'referendum' can go together, particularly if we really are proposing a change in how our country is governed, but let us get the people a real choice first."
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