Tony Blair 'deeply worried' UK may quit EU

09.08.2012 - 09:56

Former British premier, Tony Blair has told the German Die Zeit that he is "Deeply worried" that the UK may leave the EU in a referendum that could be triggered by a transfer of powers from London to Brussels as the union reconfigures in response to the Eurozone crisis.

Blair said, "If more competences are transferred to the EU, then its democratic legitimacy must be built up too," he added. "Britain must play a strong role in this. Because we need a balance between European institutions and the nation states.  If this is done wrongly, we could create a political crisis that could become just as a big as the euro crisis. People will not go along with the abolishment of the nation state."

Blair noted that calls for a tighter union would lead to "powerful political change of the EU." He continued, "And on this point, I am deeply worried that Britain could decide by referendum to leave the whole process."

Political insiders in Labour and the Conservative party believe that it is more likely than not, that a commitment to an in/out referendum of the EU could be in the party manifestos for the 2015 UK General Election.

The Conservatives are concerned at the increasing popularity of the eurosceptic UKIP, whose leader, Nigel Farage has targeted the eurosceptic right wing of the Conservatives, unhappy with David Cameron and the coalition. Although their poll ratings remain low, UKIPs pressure on the Tories is causing concern. Labour are also mulling a referendum pledge. The thinking is that, if the Tories promise one, then Labour would have to follow, so it would be best to announce such a pledge first.