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John Redwood MP and Dr Hans Friedrich von Ploetz
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

DAVID FROST:

Well I'm joined today by the Conservative's Head of Parliamentary Campaigning, John Redwood. Good morning John.

JOHN REDWOOD:

Good morning David.

DAVID FROST:

And the German Ambassador to Europe, His Excellency Dr Hans Friedrich von Ploetz. Ambassador, good morning.

HANS FRIEDRICH VON PLOETZ:

Good morning.

DAVID FROST:

John you've brought out this new great work here, Stars and Strife, and in that really what you're saying is that there is a danger, a real danger of destroying our relationship with the United States in what's going on in Europe and you say we should re-negotiate our relationship with Europe?

JOHN REDWOOD:

Yes I do and I think if we abolish the pound which they'd like us to do and joined the European Army, the Rapid Reaction Force, which will evolve into a very strong military presence Nato will start to pull apart, our commercial-industrial relationships with America may well be loosened and we will be drawn in to a set of trade disputes with the United States because that is what the EU is now doing. The French are very keen to pursue a very anti-American agenda and they've made a lot of progress in picking a series of rows with our best ally and the most important investor in Britain, I find that very worrying.

DAVID FROST:

And so what would you like a re-negotiation to achieve?

JOHN REDWOOD:

Well I'd like it to help the relationship for both sides, I think France and Germany are getting very tired of successive British prime ministers being unable to deliver all of the European integration that they would like us to, so even Tony Blair who's terribly Euro-friendly, we're told, can't destroy the pound because the British people won't let him, he's nervous about the European Army although he's being dragged into it, can't join the common borders idea and is very reluctant to accept all of the common taxation, although he's being dragged into that unwittingly as well. So I'd say we need to negotiate a relationship where Britain can choose those bits that we're happy to join in with, get our vetoes back and let the others carry on with doing what they want to do. So we would be easier partners because not all our freedoms would have been taken away.

DAVID FROST:

Ambassador, is that a viable suggestion, could such a negotiation ever be tolerated by anybody else, what do you think?

HANS FRIEDRICH VON PLOETZ:

The point of departure as far as the United States are concerned is, in my view, quite a different one. The decision of the United States after the last World War to stay in Europe and their firm belief that European integration would take care of all the troubles of the past has changed Europe to the better and I frankly do not see the alternative Europe or alliance with the United States, these two things go together. In the past 40, 50 years Germany has been pressed by many people, in Paris and in London, to choose, we have always said and we still say that for the future we need both and that, I think, is, is the reality seen from the continent and seen from the United States. So we're, I think this, this proposition is not a realistic one.

DAVID FROST:

Alright, the first part, that was the first part of what John said, and what about the second of re-negotiating so we, as it were, the word pick and choose like a Chinese menu and, I mean is that possible or would the rest of our colleagues in Europe say no way will we go backwards and re-negotiate terms?

HANS FRIEDRICH VON PLOETZ:

Well, well John brought his book, I haven't written a book on, on my ideas but this is the Maastricht, the Amsterdam Treaty, I negotiated on that so, the Treaty basically defines the rules of the game, I don't think it is a very, a very realistic proposition to re-negotiate indefinitely, if one re-negotiated with a view of picking and choosing that is totally unrealistic.

DAVID FROST:

Yes.

JOHN REDWOOD:

But we're always re-negotiating, France and Germany are always coming up with new ideas, the Commission is coming up with new ideas for developing further European integration, even the most Euro-friendly people in Britain are beginning to say where is it all going to end, how many more powers are going to be taken away from our democracy, shouldn't some of the rules still be made in Britain. So there will be another negotiation along and I would hope the Germany Ambassador would see that I'm offering something rather positive here so that France and Germany wouldn't feel that Britain was always dragging them back, that we wouldn't always feel under pressure to do things we don't want to do. There was another row this morning in the papers about abolishing the pound, our government has always said that we could just do that when we fancied it, and implied we could go in at the exchange rate of our choosing, quite rightly they're saying from the Commission, you'll have to spend two years hard labour in the exchange rate mechanism as the rules dictate and of course they will decide what rate we go in at. Terribly damaging for British business.

DAVID FROST:

But would you, would you say that if the negotiations don't proceed satisfactorily, I gather you think we might have to suspend our membership of Europe?

JOHN REDWOOD:

I think we have lots of powers and lots of opportunities but I would do it in a very friendly way, I was amused by what was said about George Bush's style of politics and I do hope the suit and the courtesies are coming back, I think it's a very good style. I would go to our partners and hope William Hague will go to our partners after the election and say we're sorry that Britain has been a bore over these years, we've been the club bore, but we thought we were joining a cricket club and you're now telling us you want us to have compulsory synchronised swimming and to pay for the swimming pool, well that isn't on. So can we sit down and discuss how we can play cricket with you on the basis of joining a common market but we don't want all your common government, I'm sure there'll be a basis for sorting it out. I don't believe our partners are that unreasonable and surely the German Ambassador would agree that there will be another treaty along, they're already thinking about a European constitution, well isn't that the point to which Britain can say we don't want to belong to the super-state.

DAVID FROST:

Do you think there's any justice in, in implying as John does there that the rules have changed dramatically, the cricket club, the cricket club allusion there, is that fair?

HANS FRIEDRICH VON PLOETZ:

I don't think there was any hidden agenda and I don't think it is, it is proper to project the picture of, of the super-state, what we are basically doing is not following an ideology or a master plan, a blueprint, but we are dealing with reality. There are subjects together which are too big for our own nation states to deal with, even, even the biggest nation states can't cope with them and there are, so we have to do a number of things today because our interests and our values correspond. Secondly there are issues which are, there I agree, too big, too small to be dealt with at the European level, in fact there are many subjects which are too small to be dealt with at the national level, so we see a trend to regionalisation. What I'm saying is we are dealing with a changing reality and we're trying to defend the national interests of our citizens as best as we can. Sometimes uniting with others, sometimes giving them to region and cities to deal with them. This is normal change in life and I think on and on analysis Europe has served our citizens very, very well, the contribution Europe has made to British success in business - tremendous. The contribution Britain has made to Europe's success in, in business and trade - fantastic. Competition rules Britain was a main player, instituting the internal market, all that, so I'm pretty relaxed, let us proceed step-by-step and in the next round yes we will talk about what needs to be done because we are enlarging the Union.

JOHN REDWOOD:

Well I think the Ambassador has put it very eloquently, that what they have in mind is that Europe does the big important things, things like taxation, common frontiers, the army, war and peace, all the things that most British people want to be decided in Britain would be at the federal level and the Ambassador has said to me before in interesting discussions, that he can't understand why England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland wouldn't be happy to be like Bavaria or to the German Federation in a European Federation and that's where I think the problem lies and I don't think British people are ready for that.

DAVID FROST:

Right, thank you both very much indeed for joining, I glad the allusion was cricket rather than football because we might.

JOHN REDWOOD:

My own game David.

DAVID FROST:

Yes we might be able to beat Germany at cricket. Thank you very much.

END

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