Britain should be a player in the EU, but can’t ‘cherry pick’ what part of Europe to take or to leave, Denis MacShane, former UK Minister for Europe told RT, as the debates of the nation’s membership in the union continue.
Addressing the euro skepticism growing throughout the UK, British Prime Minister says he intends to let British citizens decide if they want to be members of the EU in a vote in 2017.
French President Francois Hollande, criticizing Britain's antipathy, reminded the UK that France, Germany and other nations made up the European Economic Community (EEC) long before Britain signed on fully in January 1973.
“Europe existed before Britain joined it,” Hollande said during a nearly three-hour press conference Thursday.
MacShane stressed that the current EU is worse than a “playground” with the way nations continue to blame each other for the coalition’s troubles.
No member state has ever left the EU, although the British did
hold a referendum on whether to continue their membership in 1975,
two years after the country’s initial entry into the collective.
Imminent structural change to the EU, spearheaded by France’s
Hollande, has reignited British debate over the country’s place in
RT: The French President had harsh words for Britain... deserved, do you think?
Denis MacShane: I think you’d find a lot of British
politicians who’d agree with him, that Britain would be better off
outside of the European Union. And almost every day you see papers
writing here or go and listen to debates in the House of Commons
where people are lecturing the French and everybody else in Europe
on what to do. Sadly, the EU at the moment is a giant blame game,
finger pointing - ‘it’s you’, it’s not me, I’m the ‘good boy, I’m
going to get better!’ Brits blame the French, the French blame the
Germans, the Germans blame the Spanish. Frankly, playgrounds have
got more adults these days then the top leadership of
RT: In the past you've called for Britain to join the Eurozone - what's your position on that now?
DM: We should be fully integrated. We have a heavily devalued pound and yet the balance of trade, what we export, is getting worse and worse. Either we should be properly in, or perhaps, I’m coming to the conclusion and many people are in this country, thanks to the kind of political leadership we’ve had in the recent years, it’s likely we may decide to leave. And then Europe will be split asunder and every European country, not just Britain will be much weaker as a result.
RT: You've been an outspoken Europe-supporter for years, are you actually supporting exit now?
DM: Not at all. I think Britain should be a player, we can be a player. A lot of the points put forward by Mr. Cameron and other British political leaders have a lot of good sense in them, but I also think that points put forward by Mrs. Merkel and François Hollande have sense - that Britain can’t ‘cherry pick,’ Britain can’t come in and say we take this little bit of Europe not all the rest. We are moving after the catastrophe of the banking crisis where the banks were run by all these people who destroyed the economy in 2008 and we are still living with the disasters of their incompetence. I think we should have more banking supervision, what is called a banking union. I think Britain should be part of that.
RT: In the past, you've said the Euro would not lead to a European super-state - but doesn't the European Central Bank now having oversight over Eurozone banks contradict this?
DM: No, what I’m saying is that we need a much tougher regulatory systems for banks. We’ve got them in place for trade. We had them in place 60 years ago for the coal and steel industries of Europe. Britain said no to that. It made no difference; it wasn’t the arrival of a super state. What Europe needs, what we all need around the world is to do away with tax havens, tax dodging, to do away with people parking their money in London, Switzerland, Luxemburg or whatever to dodge taxes - we need to have much tougher supervision. More broadly speaking, my country, Britain has been going through 20 years of non-stop campaigning. We have just seen the death of Mrs. Thatcher, she contributed to this, and Mr. Cameron and all of the political leadership at the moment on the conservative side are the children of Mrs. Thatcher. And they’ve been telling us for years that Europe is a terrible thing with awful people and we have to do as little with it as possible. Now, I think the British people are believing it and saying, ‘ok, give us a vote, maybe we’ll leave the EU’. And France, Germany, Poland and France are saying ‘ok, we’d rather you stay, but if you really want to go – bye-bye!’