Mayor's report (Supplementary) [3]

Session date: 
December 14, 2011
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Thank you very much, Mr Mayor. I did not think I would be saying this, Chair, but I would like to thank you for those thoughtful remarks. They are not usually what you would put before this Assembly around the situation we face which is highly risky in terms of the London economy - never mind the national economy - after we played all our cards at that Friday summit and lost our role to negotiate further issues.

Can I just ask you, Mr Mayor, you clearly have been thinking about these matters seriously. We know your views on a referendum. Can I take it from your remarks then that you do not think it is in Londoners' interests that we, if there is ever an opportunity, leave the EU? Yes or no.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Mayor's report (Supplementary) [3]

Answer for Mayor's report (Supplementary) [3]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

): I have been very clear about this for a long time. The answer is no, Len, just before you say, 'Yes or no'. I do not think that you will find in our lifetimes that the British establishment - the whole galaxy of political business interests and people who believe and care about this country - when it really comes to it, will want to see us excluded from all the institutions of the EU. Five hundred years of British diplomacy has been about making sure that you do not get continental powers effectively allying against us.

Just to go back to my earlier answer and what is happening with the European summit, I do not think that is, funnily enough, what is happening now in Brussels with our European friends. They are desperately trying to resolve an impossible problem. They are trying to get themselves out of the unholy mess that they have created by going ahead ill-advisedly with a single currency involving more members than could possibly stomach it, and could cope with its economic impact. That situation needs to be resolved. I do not happen to think it can be resolved by creating, as was proposed, a kind of economic government of Europe and creating a fiscal union. That is the wrong way to go. That will intensify the problem. It will intensify the anti-democratic nature of the monetary union. It is perfectly clear from what is happening today if you read the headlines in the Financial Times (FT) and you look at some of the discussions that are going on now in other European capitals, there are anxieties about even the proposal tabled by Angela Merkel [German Chancellor] and Nicolas Sarkozy [French President] and real doubts about whether it can be made to work.

So what I would say to you, to get back to my earlier analysis, is that what happened in Brussels was not perhaps as dramatic in its relation to Britain as has been portrayed. Plenty of other Prime Ministers, from Tony Blair to Margaret Thatcher, have vetoed things that they did not think were in the national interest. The Prime Minister did completely the right thing and I share very much what Tony and Roger are saying. But the critical thing now is for them to sort out the euro.