Foreign Secretary William Hague has dismissed suggestions that the Government’s promise of a referendum on future EU treaties could be triggered by a German initiative on the eurozone.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel secured agreement at last month’s meeting of the European Council for a treaty change to create a permanent bailout fund for eurozone countries which get into difficulties.
The coalition agreement promised a “referendum lock” which would ensure that “any proposed future treaty that transferred areas of power or competences” to the EU would be subject to a public vote. Legislation to implement the pledge is due to be published in the coming week.
But Mr Hague rejected the argument of some eurosceptics that British voters’ approval should be sought for Ms Merkel’s limited amendment to EU treaties.
The Foreign Secretary told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “As proposed, it wouldn’t give rise to a referendum, because our proposal … is that if we or any government propose to hand over new areas of powers to the EU there must be a referendum of the British people.
“What is being proposed by Angela Merkel doesn’t affect the UK or the powers of the UK.
“If we wanted to hold referendums on matters which don’t affect the UK, I suppose we could, but clearly the logical and sensible thing to do is to have referendums if we are asking people to give up more powers.
“By the way, this Government is not going to agree to Britain giving away any more of our powers. That doesn’t occur in this case.”