London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for a re-think of the British relationship with the E.U. at a speech at the Thomas Reuters headquarters in London. Calling the euro a “calamitous project,” Johnson urged Prime Minister David Cameron to offer the British people a referendum on membership of the single market:
That is a renegotiated treaty we could and should put to the vote of the British people. It is high time that we had a referendum, and it would be a very simple question: 'Do you want to stay in the EU single market – yes or no? And if people don't think the new relationship is an improvement then they will exercise their sovereign right to leave the EU.
He also attacked the E.U.’s moral and intellectual foundation:
I don't understand why we continually urge the eurozone countries to go forward with this fiscal and political union, when we know in our hearts that it is anti-democratic and therefore intellectually and morally wrong,
Johnson’s comments come amid a surge of popularity being enjoyed by the eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Recent by-elections have sent the British government worrying signals.
For the first time in a while euroscepticism is mainstream and is enjoying significant support in parties other than UKIP. Some Conservatives have recently spoken out in favor of a pact or deal with UKIP in light of their recent successes.
Conservatives are in a difficult position being in coalition with the europhilic Liberal Democrats, who would oppose any moves to drastically change the British relationship with the E.U.
One way that the Conservatives might be able to hold onto their support is to make a firm commitment to offering a referendum on the U.K.’s relationship with the E.U. However, David Cameron would not want to look like he is agreeing with Boris Johnson on Europe or looking to him for advice. Nor would he want to risk a collaspe of the coalition government.
Whatever Conservatives do, they should act quickly. UKIP leader Nigel Farage will continue to enjoy support as long as UKIP remains the only party offering serious changes to the U.K.'s relationship with the E.U.
Watch Farage make his feeling towards the President of the European Council known below: