Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling has all but backed Britain leaving the EU in a carefully-worded newspaper article. Writing in the Telegraph on Thursday, cabinet minister Grayling, who calls himself a Eurosceptic, laid out his long-held frustrations with Britain’s membership of the European Union and said that he believes the nation has reached “a crucial crossroads.”
Here are the most important bit from Grayling’s article (emphasis ours).
And so we have reached what I believe is a crucial crossroads for the United Kingdom. The crisis in the eurozone and the migration challenge have led to calls for still more integration and a move towards much greater political union. It is a path that the UK will not and should not follow …
Most people in Westminster know that I hold strong Eurosceptic views. It is time for Britain to vote again on its future in Europe. But I also strongly believe that David Cameron is right to seek new terms for our membership before that vote happens. I am someone who believes that simply staying in the EU with our current terms of membership unchanged would be disastrous for Britain.
Grayling’s article comes after Prime Minister David Cameron said last week he will allow his ministers to campaign for Britain to leave the EU, as long as they wait until he has finished his renegotiation with the European Union first. That’s why Grayling has been so careful with his words, saying that he supports Cameron’s renegotiation, but also stating it would be disastrous for Britain to stay in the EU by adding the caveat “with our current terms of membership unchanged.”
It was reported in the Telegraph Cameron was forced into allowing his ministers to back the leave campaign because Grayling had threatened to resign.
Grayling might have tried to be careful with his words, but his article has been interpreted as sign that he is going to campaign for Britain to leave the EU by at least one pro-EU colleague. Conservative MP Damian Green told the BBC’s Today Programme that Grayling was “going along the tightrope of overtly breaking the rules the Prime Minister set down for the cabinet” and that he was “peddling myths about Britain in Europe.”
It’s a carefully written article, going along the tightrope of overtly breaking the rules the Prime Minister set down for the cabinet last week. I think the substance is more important than the process, I want to challenge some of the things Chris is saying, I think he’s peddling myths about Britain in Europe.
Both Grayling and Green emphasised the importance of having a civilised debate with the Conservative Party over Britain’s membership of the EU, but this has historically been much easier said than done. It will be interesting to see if the debate of the EU remains civil given that senior members of the party appear likely to take a different line to party leadership.
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