British treasury chief calls for EU reforms

Jan. 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- British Treasury Minister George Osborne warned Eurozone colleagues they must reform economic treaties and policies or risk further decline.

Osborne repeated Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge to renegotiate Britain's terms with the European Union, then put them up for a public referendum -- a nod to the more critical elements of his party, traditionally skeptical of involvement in European affairs, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

"It is the status quo which condemns the people of Europe to an ongoing economic crisis and continuing decline. And so there is a simple choice in Europe: reform or decline. Our determination is clear, to deliver the reform and then let the people decide, and that's exactly what we will do," Osborne told a conference on EU reform organized by a group of Conservative lawmakers.

Cameron's Torries face the possibility of the EU issue splitting the Conservative vote in elections next year, the Journal reported. A small but influential party, the United Kingdom Independence Party, threatens to siphon votes from Conservative lawmakers, strengthening the Labor Party's chances of retaking control of government.

Opinion polls indicate most Britons are also skeptical of their country's involvement with the Eurozone -- Britain is a member state but does not use the common currency, the euro, instead keeping its traditional pound. But polls also indicate the issue is not a significantly important one to most voters.

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