Blog: Dave LeggettCameron needs alliances in the EU

Dave Leggett | 21 October 2014

It was interesting to speak with UK prime minister David Cameron yesterday. I didn't have much time, so I went for the European question. 

We were, after all, sitting in Ford's Dagenham engine plant and Ford exports some 85% of its UK-made engines. Multi-national corporations like to trade across borders and they like to trade with the minimum of cost and use common standards where possible. They also crave stability in those trading conditions, not uncertainties that can wipe out margins (as fluctuating exchange rates can do). 

Unsurprisingly, Cameron yesterday stressed the importance of Europe's single market, of reforming the EU. That will go down well with business leaders in the UK. He wants Britain to have a say in how that single market works, its rules. That sounds eminently sensible. Much hinges on how this proposed 'reform' of the EU plays out so that it can be presented credibly to a sceptical UK electorate after the next election (if it's to be an in-out referendum, as Cameron has said his party will campaign for).

An important part of the process of getting that reform will be to build allies in other EU member states followed by a degree of consensus on the way forward inside the EU. The sooner we see evidence that Britain is not in a marginalised position on its own, the better. That would make it more likely that these reforms can really happen. Have to say, haven't seen much evidence of that yet. 

UK: Britain better off inside a reformed EU - PM

Sectors: Vehicle markets

Companies: Ford


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