Leave Brussels? What we really need is a United States of Europe, says senior Lib Dem (who admits he will not be 'loved' for it)
- MEP Andrew Duff says next year's Euro elections are 'crunch time'
- He will urge all pro-federalists to take their message to 'the streets'
- Party spokesman will issue rallying cry in speech to an audience in Berlin
- Attacks David Cameron's plan to claw back powers from Brussels
- Ukip leader Nigel Farage vows to defeat pro-federalists at the ballot box
Speech: Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff wants to take the argument for a United States of Europe 'to the streets'
Liberal Democrats should use next year’s Euro elections to campaign for a United States of Europe, a senior MEP has urged.
In a rallying cry to pro-federalists, Andrew Duff will tell an audience in Berlin tomorrow that David Cameron is wrong to try to claw back powers and instead argue Britain must hand even more control and money to Brussels.
Standing down as President of the Union of European Federalists, he will also insist there is ‘nothing inherently undemocratic’ about the way the EU is run at the moment.
Mr Duff, an MEP for the East of England, will claim that next year’s elections to the European Parliament are ‘crunch time’ to ‘campaign for the federal Europe which we espouse’.
The extraordinary pitch to voters comes at a time when the anti-EU UK Independent Party is expected to top the polls in Britain.
Pro-federalists have to persuade the ‘those who hold the reins of national power to realise their relative impotence’, Mr Duff will say.
But he does have the self-awareness to admit that ‘it would be naive for those of us who wish to strengthen the firepower of the EU to expect to be loved for what we do and say’.
He adds: ‘The federalist argument has to be won not just in academic and official circles, and with the markets, but also democratically, even on the streets.’
In a speech to the 24th also takes aim at Mr Cameron, who has vowed to claw back powers from Brussels before holding an in-out referendum by 2017.
‘The rise of nationalist forces, and so-called "eurosceptics" who march to the beat of the nationalist drum, has continued,’ Mr Duff will say.
‘David Cameron may be able to peddle his defeatist prospectus of a weaker, looser confederation of nation states; but we now have our optimistic prospectus of a strong, democratic federal union of states and citizens.
‘Already the temptation to disintegrate, to dismantle what has been achieved over the last decades, risks overwhelming the United Kingdom.’
Instead Mr Duff calls for the UK government to give up more of its public spending and hand it to the ‘European treasury’.
He goes on to call for a ‘general revision’ of all EU treaties with a view to restoring ‘full democratic legitimacy to the project of building a united Europe’.
Struggle: Mr Duff argues Britain and other national governments must hand more power and money to European treasury
The remarks were quickly condemned by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who told MailOnline: 'We should never forget that despite how discredited the political and economic reality has shown their ideas to be, EU nationalists like Andrew Duff are still pushing for a United States of Europe.
'UKIP will be aiming to win the European Elections next year and we will seek to replace as many pro-EU, pro-Euro MEPs from the old parties as possible with UKIP MEPs who stand up and say that Britain must leave the EU.'
A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: 'Andrew Duff is well known for his outspoken views on this issue. He was speaking in a personal capacity and definitely does not represent official party policy.
'Liberal Democrats will be pushing for a more accountable and efficient EU in 2014, focused on creating jobs and growth.'
In extracts of his speech released today, Mr Duff complains that national elected governments have demanded financial belt-tightening ‘without stopping to consider for one moment the real added value and cost efficiencies which could be gained by a genuine transfer of some public spending from the national to the European budget and treasury’.
Pledge: David Cameron has promised to negotiate a fresh settlement with Brussels before holding an in-out referendum by 2017
Mr Duff warns that pro-federalists are ‘not very good at combating’ the people who blame Brussels for problems, but hails the controversial Lisbon Treaty as a ‘large step forward’ in the governance of the EU.
Mr Duff will say: ‘In my view, there is nothing inherently undemocratic about any of the institutions of the European Union and nothing particularly malevolent about those who run them.
‘The greater problem is the absence of government by which I mean an efficacious executive authority with the capacity to act across the wide range of topics which today's challenges throw up, and an executive authority possessing an armoury of instruments sufficient to deal with the complex challenge of integration.’
Despite the Eurozone crisis and austerity sweeping the continent, European unity has survived intact, he will say.
‘Not covered in glory, not making great strides to the federal constitutional settlement which we at UEF want to see.
‘Not without social hardship, particularly among the young, not without losing out in international affairs but nevertheless the semblance of unity and the basic structure of the European Union has survived.’
However he warns of further unrest as the Eurozone battles to restore stability to the banking sector.
‘Imagine the political reaction when 'Brussels' starts to punish share-holders and depositors by closing down banks not just in Cyprus but also here in Germany.’
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