EU Constitution: Blair demands veto on tax

Link: French commissioner calls for ‘Eurotax’

The prime minister is ready for a major confrontation with his French and German counterparts Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder.

In the wake of the UK Independence Party’s surge in the Euro elections, he will make clear that the British people will not accept Brussels interference in matters such as tax, social security, criminal justice, defence, foreign policy and industrial relations.

Blair made clear at his monthly press conference and prime minister’s questions that while he was not ready to see Britain ‘marginalised’ in Europe, he wasn’t going to allow Brussels to dictate in key policy areas.

Blair said: ‘We want a Europe that makes Britain stronger, safer and richer and which respects our sovereignty in vital areas such as tax, social security, defence, foreign policy and key areas of criminal procedural law.’

On the subject of Britain’s veto on tax matters he said: ‘We are still in discussion on that issue but let me make it clear that there is no way we are going to have tax harmonisation or other people deciding on our tax rights.’

Leader of the Commons, Peter Hain, who was involved in the early talks on the EU Constitution, today confirmed that if Britain was unhappy with the final document they simply wouldn’t sign it.

And that view was confirmed to Accountancy Age by senior Foreign Office sources.

At question time Conservative Leader Michael Howard told Blair that his so called ‘red lines’ on issues like tax were ‘red herrings’.

But the prime minister hit back by saying: ‘We need some proper leadership from you. That doesn’t mean running towards the UK Independence Party shouting “Me Too”.’

Related reading