Conservative lawmakers urged Prime Minister David Cameron to protect the U.K.’s financial-services industry and fight back against European Union efforts to “steal” business from British clearinghouses.
Speaking two days before Cameron makes a keynote speech on Britain’s relationship with the EU, the lawmakers, who call themselves the Fresh Start Project, said the premier must renegotiate the terms of Britain’s affiliation to the bloc. Cameron has signaled he supports putting the outcome of such talks to a popular vote after the 2015 general election, with the government arguing to stay in.
“We want Britain to remain in the EU,” the group’s chairwoman, Andrea Leadsom, told reporters in Parliament in London today. “But the status quo in terms of ever-encroaching rules and bureaucracy -- that must stop.”
In their “Manifesto for Change,” published today, the lawmakers urged Cameron to focus his efforts on “a robust but achievable renegotiation of our terms of membership.” It highlighted a “demand” by the European Central Bank that U.K.- based clearing houses “establish themselves inside the euro zone to be allowed to clear transactions in euros.”
“That’s blatantly stealing Britain’s business,” Leadsom said. “It’s got nothing to do with the single market.”
Unlike some other Tory lawmakers, the Fresh Start group doesn’t call for full British withdrawal from the EU, instead arguing for a “new and different relationship for ourselves whilst remaining a full member of the EU.”
Citing a review of possible repatriation of powers by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Leadsom suggested this path could be taken by other member states.
About 120 of the Tories’ 303 lawmakers attended Fresh Start’s first meeting late last year.
The manifesto calls for an “emergency brake” for all member states on financial-services issues alongside repatriation of powers on social and employment law. It also seeks a U.K. opt-out from all EU policing and criminal-justice measures and a new legal safeguard for the single market.
The Strasbourg, France, seat of the European Parliament should be abolished on cost grounds and the legislature located permanently in Brussels, the lawmakers said.
“Many of the proposals are already government policy, some could well become future government or Conservative Party policy and some may require further thought,” Hague wrote.
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