EU treaty change threatens Coalition
David Cameron has rejected Iain Duncan Smith's suggestion that closer eurozone integration would trigger a UK referendum.
Asked if a transfer of powers from 17 eurozone states to Brussels would trigger a plebiscite under the European Union Act, the Prime Minister said that there would only be a referendum "if a new treaty passes powers from UK to Brussels" adding that "as Prime Minister, I do not think the issue will arise".
"The position is set out very clearly. What the Act says is where there is a transfer of powers from London to Brussels, that should trigger a referendum. It couldn't be clearer.
"Prior to May 2010, there was a Conservative party policy on this issue, but we have a Coalition Government and we have a government policy."
But this afternoon, parliamentary aide Conor Burns argued that the UK should repatriate some powers from Brussels if the eurozone pursued greater fiscal union. He told the World at One: “What we would have is we would have a completely different relationship with a new entity: a locked eurozone, a single economy within the eurozone, and that does fundamentally change the relationship the United Kingdom has with that eurozone...
"Now the referendum lock that the Government has passed says that there should be a referendum if there is a transfer of power from Britain to Brussels. I can't see that these treaty changes will do that, but I think we should have a process where the powers are coming back the other way, as we promised at the last general election.”
Mr Duncan Smith's comments yesterday were also at odds with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who told the BBC that a referendum was unnecessary for a treaty change that did not take powers from the UK.