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British PM Wants EU Ties To Change, Hints At Tax Cuts

posted 29 Sept 2013, 12:24 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 29 Sept 2013, 12:25 ]

Britain hints at tax cuts, seeks radical reform of EU ties and may leave European Convention on Human Rights

 MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (SEPTEMBER 29, 2013) (BBC'SANDREW MARR SHOW) -  British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested on Sunday (September 29) his government would roll out further tax cuts to try to woo voters ahead of a 2015 election and said Britain may end up leaving the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cameron was speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr in a weekly political show in Manchester ahead of his ruling Conservative party's annual conference.

He said the two-party coalition he leads needed to keep cutting taxes and create more jobs in order to cement a nascent economic recovery and help those struggling with the cost of living.

He also promised to stick to his government's plan to reduce the country's large public deficit.

"The only way to sustainably raise living standards is to keep the recovery going, and the economy is now moving, to keep on creating jobs and we are creating those jobs, to keep on cutting the deficit cos that keeps interest rates and crucially mortgage rates low and to keep on cutting people's taxes because that is the way to give people more of their own money into their own pockets to spend as they choose," Cameron said.

His government might cut taxes for those in society who earn the least, he suggested. He also praised his chancellor George Osbourne's radical spending cuts programme which he said would stay on track.

Cameron said the housing market is recovering, but denied that a house price bubble is building.

Seeking to reverse days of gloomy opinion polls before the start his party's annual conference,Cameron said his decision to bring forward the government's new 12-billion-pound mortgage guarantee scheme would be a shot in the arm for would-be home owners.

He told Andrew Marr that RBS NatWest, and Halifax, all banks part-owned by the state, would take part in the new "Help to Buy" scheme, due to start next week, three months early.

The plan is aimed at people who have been frozen out of the property market by the soaring size of deposits required to get a mortgage.

Cameron also moved to try to neutralise what it emerging as one of the biggest threats to his re-election: UKIP.

With no lawmakers in the British parliament, UKIP, which wants Britain to leave the EU and an end to what it calls "open-door immigration", has seen its support surge in opinion polls.

Surveys suggest it has begun to siphon off support from the Conservatives, notably in decisive "swing" constituencies that will help decide the 2015 election.

Under pressure from UKIP and like-minded lawmakers in his own party, Cameron has promised to try to renegotiate Britain's EU ties and hold a referendum on its continued membership by the end of 2017 if he is re-elected.

On Sunday he went further, saying Britain might be forced to abolish the Human Rights Act, which since 2000 has made the European Convention on Human Rights, signed by the 47 members of the Council of Europe, enforceable in Britain's courts.

A series of high-profile cases, such as that of radical cleric Abu Qatada, who resisted British attempts to send him to Jordan to face terrorism charges for more than a decade, have angered many voters and exposed successive governments to the accusation that they do not control Britain's own borders.

"In the government led by me there will be the ability to throw out of this country far more rapidly people who threaten us and our way of life," he said.

In July, the European Court of Human Rights, which upholds the convention, angered British critics further, ruling that Britain had violated the rights of three murderers by jailing them for life with no prospect of release.

Ratcheting up the anti-European rhetoric he demanded radical change to Britain's ties with theEuropean Union.

Cameron said the EU will have to renegotiate the treaties on which it was founded, an idea rejected by some EU members as being too complicated and time-consuming.

Voters don't like the idea of an "ever closer union", one of the EU's guiding principles, and think the alliance has become too bureaucratic and anti-competitive, Cameron said.

Polls show more Britons want to leave the EU than remain a member, although many are undecided.

"The phrase 'seeking an ever closer union' that is not what the British people want, that is not what I want. Other people can sign up to a closer union other countries can but Britain should not be in an ever closer union and I am determined we get out of that," said Cameron

Marr asked if getting out of the treaty would mean a full treaty renegotiation.

"Yes we need a treaty renegotiation I am convinced one has to happen," the PM answered.

Some EU members have warned Britain that they will resist attempts to reclaim powers unilaterally. Business leaders say talk of Britain leaving its biggest trading partner could undermine confidence and investment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was re-elected with a strong mandate this month, has started talking about powers flowing back to member states from Brussels, but "she means something different from the British" and is still committed to a more integrated EU, an aide told Reuters.