'We must prepare to leave EU'
KINGSWOOD MP Chris Skidmore believes the UK must prepare itself to "exit" the European Union.
The Conservative backbencher said it was not "unfeasible" to see the UK economy flourishing outside the EU and the single market.
His comments came as Prime Minister David Cameron prepared to announce plans for a referendum on EU membership as he sets out his policy for future relations with Europe in a long-awaited speech tomorrow.
Mr Skidmore told a political website it "would make sense ultimately to have paved the way for an exit".
He also said the UK needed to be "weaned off its dependency on Europe", adding: "I don't see it as unfeasible to create a sustainable economy outside the common market and the EU."
Instead Mr Skidmore urged politicians to create "strong relationships" with countries outside Europe before they "pull the plug" on the EU.
Mr Skidmore's comments were published shortly before Mr Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband clashed over Europe at Prime Minister's Question Time.
Mr Miliband said the uncertainty caused by a referendum would "hang a closed sign" around British business.
But Mr Cameron told MPs the "massive changes" taking place in Europe following the eurozone crisis presented an opportunity to renegotiate a better relationship with the EU.
He said: "Do we look at these changes and see what we can do to maximise Britain's national interest and do we consult the public about that, or do we sit back, do nothing and tell the public to go hang?"
Mr Skidmore said if the UK was going to become a "global power" then politicians had to understand that the world was adjusting to a different balance of powers and that the EU might not maintain its global dominance in the future.
He said: "The world itself is going through a balancing act."