George Osborne will today issue a stark warning that failure by the European Union to reform will condemn it to a future of economic crisis and decline.
In a keynote speech, the Chancellor will stress the Conservatives’ determination to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership, declaring “We can’t go on like this“.
His intervention comes after Euro-sceptic backbenchers shattered the Tory truce on Europe with a call for Parliament to be given a veto over EU legislation.
Ministers were quick to dismiss the plan – set out in a letter signed by 95 Conservative MPs – as “unworkable”, warning that it would undermine the single market.
Mr Osborne will however make clear that ministers understood the need for reform of the EU, at a time when Europe is falling behind the rising economic powers of Asia, while its welfare spending outstrips the rest of the world.
He will reiterate David Cameron’s pledge that a Conservatives will put the renegotiated terms of Britain’s membership to the country in an in/out referendum if they are returned to power at the next general election.
Addressing a conference on EU reform organised by Open Europe and the Fresh Start Project, he will say: “The biggest economic risk facing Europe doesn’t come from those who want reform and renegotiation – it comes from a failure to reform and renegotiate. And so there is a simple choice for Europe: reform or decline“.
“Our determination is clear: to deliver the reform, and then let the people decide.”
Mr Osborne will say that the financial crisis of 2008 had dramatically exposed the the underlying weakness of the European economy.