Eurosceptics are “anti-British and anti-business,” Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Treasury Secretary, said on Monday.
He told 200 leading City of London figures that withdrawing from the European Union would be a “one way” irreversible ticket as he issued a rallying call to businesses to make their voice heard on the issue. “If you are anti-Europe, you are anti-business, anti-growth, acting against the best interests of your country,” Mr Alexander told the inaugural event of the City Network.
He criticised David Cameron’s plan to negotiate a new EU settlement for the UK before the in/out referendum he has promised in 2017. He said it would be a “tragedy” to turn away when there is growing support for a British economic reform agenda in Europe. “That is why the notion of ‘renegotiation’ is so damaging. For it means wasting our influence on trying to secure modest repatriations of fisheries policy or whatever, when we could be using that influence to deliver a huge economic benefit to our own people,” he said.
Claiming that the Lib Dems are “the only true party of Europe,” Mr Alexander said: “Imagine if the Conservative Party were in government by themselves. The anti-Europe faction really would call the tune, and Britain would be irrevocably damaged.”
He warned: “The danger is not just of EU exit. But that a United Kingdom that turns inwards wastes our influence on peripheral issues, diminishing our ability to lead.”