The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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The Economic Consequences of the EU Constitution

The Rt Hon. Oliver Letwin MP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, 9TH DECEMBER 2003

Oliver Letwin, MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer speaking to a Bruges Group seminar on the economic consequences of the EU Constitution./p>

Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin warned that,

"The European Union Constitution contains clauses which could give the EU significant powers to control economic policy in member-states that are NOT within the eurozone and also contains a threat to the continuation of our rebate. These are further reasons for resisting adoption by Britain of the Constitution and for insisting on a referendum."

Oliver Letwin also said that the European Constitution represents the EU signing itself a blank cheque regarding the payments made by member states to the EU Budget.

"I would expect that the European Court of Justice would interpret Article 153 as allowing the European Union to decide the level of its own resources without limit."

Letwin told the meeting of the Bruges Group yesterday,

"This is pregnant with possibilities for Britain our well known budget rebate is one of the issues related to the European Union's 'own resources.' "

But Letwin also predicted that the Government would be defeated by the House of Lords if it attempted to ratify the Treaty without agreeing to a Referendum.

"The Liberal Democrats may be all for it but at least they have accepted that it is more than a 'tidying up exercise' and should be subject to a Referendum."

Letwin declared,

"Many cross benches and Labour peers also agree, so I think the Government will find it extraordinary difficult, it not impossible, to get the measure through the Lords in this session. So then they would face having to rail roll it through in a year's time just before a General Election using the Parliament Act. I doubt they would want to do that particularly when we will be making sure millions are people are mobilised to express their opposition to it."