Thursday 16 June - 0915-0945
The foreign secretary began by saying that the 'reshaping and redefining' of borders is of key relevance to all main foreign policy challenges faced by Britain and the West—from Islamist extremism, to Russia, to migration. He went on to say that the world is also experiencing a technological revolution that is making it even more inderdependent and is challenging traditional models, such as border control, customs inspections and tax collection.
Given the impending EU referendum, the foreign secretary went on to talk about the EU debate. He argued that remaining in the EU is key as it will make the UK stronger, safer and better off. Stronger because the UK will have more influence. The measure of a nation’s power in the 21st century is its ability to influence and persuade. Remaining a key member of international bodies is key to retaining international influence. Being in the EU does not diminish the UK’s influence - it enhances it. Safer because work within the EU to fight cross-border terrorism and crime. EU sanctions have been crucial in responding to Russia and in helping to secure a deal with Iran on their nuclear programme. Britain alone could not have delivered this, nor should it be taken for granted that an EU without the UK could have done so. Better off because UK business have access to single market and a seat at the table when the rules of that market are made. The economic argument has been comprehensively made by Remain.
Both campaigns have been accused of negativity. The foreign secretary said that while this is regrettable, Remain have a duty to point out the major risks associated with leaving the EU.
He went on to talk about the single market, making the point that it is still very much a market in goods. Markets in services, digital and energy are still in development. The single market therefore currently benefits Germany, Italy and France more than the UK as they have strong manufacturing industries while the UK excels in other sectors, the digital economy, services, the creative industries etc. He contended that remaining in the EU not only avoids the risks associated with leaving but also allows the UK to reap the benefits of the future expansion of the single market into areas that it will benefit greatly from, more so than many other countries.
The foreign secretary argued that the deal made in February not only turbo-charges the developments that will be most beneficial to Britain – it ensures it cannot be undermined by those aspects of the EU that haven’t worked so well. He also said that the days when Britain was a minority of one within the EU are over; now there are a group of like-minded countries who look to Britain for leadership. This core group can work together to block unwanted legislation.
When asked about Turkey, the foreign secretary addressed speculation about a future EU membership. He said Turkey has been a red herring in the Leave campaign and that it is good for Europe and for Turkey itself that Turkey has a European focus. This does not mean that it is anywhere near membership. He said the hope is that Turkey will, over a period of time, adopt more and more European values and laws. He stressed the fact that the UK and all other member states have a veto in the accession of any new member, saying that after seeing the consequences of some previous accessions, this will not be allowed to happen again.
'The politics of the EU have changed; the days when Britain was in a minority of one are over.'
'It is very good for Europe and it is very good for Turkey that Turkey has a European focus and is on a trajectory towards Europe. Does that mean Turkey is anywhere near to joining the European Union? Absolutely not.'
Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK