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Pledge to opt out of EU unless there are reforms

THE current arrangements in the European Union are "simply not acceptable", Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said as he confirmed he would vote to sever ties with Brussels unless there are significant reforms.

Mr Hammond said he expects the British people would vote to leave the European Union in the referendum promised by the Tories in 2017 unless the other members agree to changes.

He said powers have to come back to nation states, with Brussels accepting that decisions should be left to individual countries, and the status of the eurozone has to be resolved.

Mr Hammond's appointment in the reshuffle, replacing William Hague, was seen as a boost to Tory Eurosceptics because of his stance on leaving if there is no change in the relationship with Brussels.

On BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, he confirmed his position has not changed even though he is now Foreign Secretary.

"I haven't changed my mind. If there is no change in the way Europe is governed, no change in the balance of competences between the nation states and the European Union, no resolution of the challenge of how the eurozone can succeed and co-exist with the non-eurozone; that is not a Europe that can work for Britain in the future. So there must be renegotiation."

He said "the status quo is simply not acceptable, the status quo is not in Britain's interest", and he has made that position clear to European colleagues.

"If we have a Conservative government after the next election, there will be a referendum in 2017," he said.

"He said a repatriation of powers to the nation states and a recognition that what can be done at national level should be done at national level.

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