The Greek economic crisis is being used as an excuse to create a European “empire”, according to a Birmingham MP.

Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) warned that the collapse of Greece’s economy, which is running at a deficit of 12.7 percent of gross domestic product, was a result of the failure of EU economic and monetary union.

But EU “elites” saw it as an opportunity to increase central control over member states rather than fixing existing problems, she claimed.

In an article published on her website, she said: “Europe’s political elite don’t give up, seeing the opportunity to use what they call a ‘benign crisis’ to bring about a greater degree of integration than would have been impossible without a crisis. The fact that electorates across the union do not favour more integration is neither here nor there. The current crisis has already seen unprecedented intrusion by the EU Commission, telling Greek ministers what they must do.”

Ms Stuart added: “Europe is developing into an empire, not a military or hereditary one, but an empire run in the interest of a narrow elite.

“The danger is not that Europe replaces the nation state in the loyalty of the people of Europe, but that it undermines identity without replacing it with anything better so people are tending to seek other identities in ethnicity or the tribe.

“Anyone familiar with the Austro-Hungarian Empire will recognize the characteristics and that in attempting to hold itself together this latter day empire became more and more repressive.”

Ms Stuart has been an outspoken critic of the way the EU operates since she represented the House of Commons at the European Convention, the body which drew up the Lisbon Treaty. Despite officially being one of the authors, she has warned the treaty did not reflect the wishes of citizens of the EU.