Foreign Secretary Hammond admits he would vote to leave EU

Philip Hammond attends a press conference in Siauliai, Lithuania, on May 2, 2014 (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
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  • David Cameron
    David Cameron
    Former prime minister of the United Kingdom (born 1966)

London (AFP) - Britain's new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed Sunday he would vote to leave the EU unless London can repatriate powers from Brussels.

Hammond said without changes to Britain's relationship with the European Union, he expected the country would vote to leave the bloc in a referendum, which Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold in 2017 if his Conservatives are reelected next year.

"I haven't changed my mind," Hammond told BBC television.

"If there is no change at all in the way Europe is governed, no change in the balance of competences between the nation states and the EU, no resolution of the challenge of how the eurozone can succeed and co-exist with the non-eurozone; that is not a Europe that can work for Britain in the future.

"So there must be change, there must be renegotiation."

He added: "The status quo is simply not acceptable, the status quo is not in Britain's interest".

Hammond said there had to be a "repatriation of powers to the nation states" and things should only be done on a European level where "absolutely necessary".

Meanwhile the relationship between the eurozone and the rest of the EU had to be settled "in a way that is fair to the non-eurozone and protects its interests", he said.

Eighteen of the 28 EU member states use the euro currency. Britain is not among them and retains the pound sterling.

Hammond said he would be telling his European counterparts that without any changes, "I am pretty clear what the answer of the British people in that referendum is going to be".

He said Britain gained "enormously" from being inside the European single market but needed to balance "the benefits of being in with the benefits of being out".

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