'Boil it down to the single market': Boris Johnson calls for EU referendum

A 'pared down' relationship was both 'essential and deliverable'

Britain should “pare down” it relationship with the European Union then put it to a vote in a referendum, the London Mayor Boris Johnson said today.

Mr Johnson said returning Britain to a “single market” relationship with the European Union was both “essential and deliverable”, but said if voters did not like it they could opt to leave the EU altogether.

He said it was “high time” that the British people had a chance to vote on the issue.

In the next few weeks David Cameron is expected to set out his approach to Britain’s relationship with Europe in a key note speech. He is expected to announce a referendum on Britain’s relationship with Europe after the 2015 election but is resisting calls for an in/out question.

But in remarks which are unlikely to be welcomed either in Downing Street or Brussels, Mr Johnson said he believed Britain should abandon the goal of being “at the heart of Europe” and instead demand a “common sense” relationship.

This would see the UK involved in the single market and the decisions governing it, but abolish much of the bureaucracy coming from Brussels.

Mr Johnson rejected warnings that a renegotiated relationship with the EU would turn the UK into a backwater, insisting that London would remain “the heart of the world economy”, trading freely not only with Europe but also the emerging economic giants like India and China.

And he set himself on collision course with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne over their support for closer fiscal union within the eurozone, which he denounced as “anti-democratic and therefore intellectually and morally wrong”.

He also risked offending Germany by saying that the government of Greece appeared to have been “taken over” by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which was not “the outcome the Greeks were hoping for in 1944”, when the Nazi occupation of the country was ended.

Speaking at Thomson Reuters, Mr Johnson said that the UK could establish a similar position in relation to the EU as that of Norway or Switzerland, with the added advantage of remaining within the councils which determine the rules of the single market.

However, pro-Europeans pointed out that there was little incentive for other Governments to agree to the change adding that Britain would also lose its say about the rules of the market if it opted out of other parts of the EU.

Mr Johnson said the euro had shown itself to be “a calamitous project”, as many in Britain had warned, and plans for fiscal and banking union would “make a bad situation worse”.

With EU politics increasingly consumed by projects to establish closer union between the eurozone states, “we can no longer pretend that this country is at the heart of Europe”.

But he described this situation as “liberating”, as it offered the chance for the UK to “seize the moment to ask the British people to define themselves and their future in Europe”.

“Boil it down to the single market. Scrap the social chapter. Scrap the fisheries policy," said Mr Johnson.

“We could construct a relationship with the EU that more closely resembled that of Norway or Switzerland - except that we would be inside the single market council, and able to shape legislation...

“That is a renegotiated Treaty we could and should put to the vote of the British people.

“It is high time that we had a referendum, and it would be a very simple question. Do you want to stay in the EU single market - yes or no? And if people don't think the new relationship is an improvement, then they will exercise their sovereign right to leave the EU.

“This pared down relationship is essential and deliverable.”

Mr Johnson insisted that Britain's European neighbours would not "punish or blame" the UK for seeking this new relationship, and would recognise that "what is good for London is good for the EU as a whole".

Even with a stripped-back EU membership, the City could be expected to continue to dominate global trade in the euro, he said.

And he argued that the new position would be best for the UK in the globalised world economy of the future, in which the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - and other emerging giants will earn a growing share of GDP.

"The future for London is to be at the heart of the world economy, the centre of a series of interconnecting sets, trading freely with the EU, but with our eyes on the growth economies of the 21st century," said Mr Johnson.

Suggested Topics
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Foundation Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Early Years and Founda...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?