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Page last updated at 07:31 GMT, Thursday, 8 December 2011

Lord Howard: EU referendum 'beside the point'


This evening's EU summit in Brussels will put Prime Minister David Cameron under huge pressure over their plans to shore up the eurozone as he has said he will veto anything which threatens Britain's interest. At home, eurosceptic Conservative MPs are putting increasing pressure on Mr Cameron to clarify his position on holding a referendum on changes which may be made in any new EU treaty.

But speaking on the Today programme, the former Conservative leader Lord Howard insisted "there isn't going to be any further transfer of power" from the UK to Brussels so "the referendum issue doesn't arise".

He told presenter James Naughtie: "I would like to see a rebalancing of powers between Britain and Brussels, and I hope that at some point we can return to that agenda.

"But what we have to do is to make sure that within the present framework, British interests are safeguarded. That is our challenge and I am sure it is a challenge that the prime minister will meet and overcome.

"What is pressing at the moment is the need to help the eurozone overcome its crisis, because the world economy is in a very fragile state and a disorderly break-up of the eurozone could bring about an economic catastrophe on a global scale."

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