A privately filmed video of Zac Goldsmith telling the Bruges Group that the European Union’s bureaucracy will “never willingly shrink” and that the only response should be the UK’s “withdrawal” from Brussels, is set to undermine his position as a potential Tory candidate to be the next London mayor.
The anti-EU think-tank were told by Mr Goldsmith in 2011 that EU laws were over-dominant in UK commerce and continued to “pour in like confetti”.
His comments are being seen by leading business figures in London as undermining David Cameron’s efforts to win concessions with Brussels through negotiations ahead of the coming referendum on EU membership.
The Bruges video is potentially the centre-point of an anti-Goldsmith campaign that threatens to expose him to criticism by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Eurosceptic Tory MPs
Eurosceptic Tory MPs
1/7 Owen Paterson
Formerly a cabinet minister, Owen Paterson is now free to make his opinion known on the backbenchers. On the subject of Europe, he does so regularly – claiming recently that the EU referendum was “rigged” in favour of staying in
2/7 John Redwood
A longstanding eurosceptic, Mr Redwood warned last year that businesses that spoke out in favour of EU membership would be punished at the check-outs by anti-EU
3/7 Bill Cash
Awkward squad rebel Bill Cash said last year that he thought the EU had become an undemocratic, German-dominated project. “An increasingly assertive German Europe is at odds with British national interests,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph
4/7 Philip Davies
From the Conservative party’s hard right wing, Philip Davies has been a longstanding critic of the EU. He founded the Better off Out campaign and is so eurosceptic that Ukip decided not to stand a candidate against him in 2010 because they agreed with him
5/7 Nadine Dorries
Outspoken Tory MP Nadine Dorries has previously advocated an alliance with Ukip. At the height of the Greek crisis in 2013 she said that the EU was “dying on its feet”
6/7 Liam Fox
The former defence secretary is a central figure on the right wing of the Conservative party. He’s long put pressure on David Cameron over EU negotiations
7/7 Zac Goldsmith
A socially liberal eurosceptic, Goldsmith was one of the founding members of the People’s Pledge campaign to get MPs to sign up for an EU referendum. His father ran the Referendum Party, a precursor to Ukip
Both groups over the last two years have issued reports that back Britain’s continuing membership of the EU
The 2013 “Help or Hindrance?” report by the LCCI said “It is clear that being part of a reformed EU is in the long-term interests of the EU.” The same report said that the “complete withdrawal from the EU is the least preferred option of London companies”.
Another report from the LCCI last year pointed to a survey of its membership which revealed that three-quarters of them believed a “full withdrawal” from the EU would negatively impact on the UK economy.”
With the London mayoral vote next year likely to be in full-swing as the referendum campaign hots up, Mr Goldsmith faces the real prospect that the two business groups, expected to back the Conservative candidate, could actively work against him.
Earlier this year the CBI urged that businesses should “speak out early” in favour of the UK remaining inside a reformed EU. Sir Mike Rake, the organisation’s president, said there were “no credible alternatives” to EU memberships.
Mr Goldsmith said in 2013 that the European status quo was not an option, and if that was all there was then he “ would vote to come out.”
His relationship with the Prime Minister has been chequered because of his views on the EU.
In 2011 the Richmond Park MP had the job of Downing Street envoy on global warming taken from him shortly after he was appointed. Two days ahead of his first formal assignment, Mr Goldsmith’s comment that the UK electorate deserved a referendum on Europe led to Mr Cameron withdrawing his envoy status.
Last night, one of Labour’s leading candidates for London mayor, the former shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, said : "Londoners simply cannot afford to risk electing Zac Goldsmith as mayor, the cost to our economy would be catastrophic. His obsession with Britain leaving the European Union will make Londoners poorer and cost thousands of jobs in the capital.”
Mr Khan said London needed its mayor to play a “leading role” in the campaign to stay in the European Union, adding “ It would be disastrous for our future if we were to elect someone who wants to sever our links with Europe."Reuse content