Hague: Britain may be better 'away from Europe'

Sat Sep 10 2011 7:42
Foreign Secretary William Hague has sent ripples through the coalition by suggesting Britain could "get ahead" by loosening ties with Brussels.
Speaking to The Times, he insisted: "It's true of the euro, it could be true of more areas in future. In fact we may get ahead as a result of being outside."
He added that it was "certainly not career suicide" to align himself more closely with the conservative parties eurosceptic element.
Mr Hague said that the eurozone had been badly planned, and that not implamenting stronger tax and spending rules had been a "giant mistake" which "would stand as a monument in time to how group-think can go so seriously away from what is realistic".
The coalition has remained largely subdued on the issue of europe, largely because of the vast ideological gulf between strong eurosceptic elements in the Conservative party and the generally pro-european stance of most liberal democrat MPs.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron has come under increasing public and political pressure to address the issue. In early September Downing Street was delivered a 100,000 signature petition on the issue of British membership, enough to trigger the planning of a parliamentary debate.
Mr Cameron, however, is determined that there is "no case to answer" on membership, saying: "I want us to be influential in Europe about the things that matter to our national interest - promoting the single market, pushing forward for growth, making sure we get lower energy prices."