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Lifetime speech for Cameron: how much Europe Brits are willing to tolerate

Thursday, January 17th 2013 - 08:18 UTC
Full article 15 comments
One third of Cameron's parliamentary party drew up the “Manifesto for Change” One third of Cameron's parliamentary party drew up the “Manifesto for Change”

British Prime Minister David Cameron came under renewed pressure to loosen his country's ties with the European Union today, two days ahead of a major speech in which he will spell out plans to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU.

As different interests jockey to influence the content of his speech, which some politicians believe may end up reshaping Britain's role in the world, a group of influential lawmakers in Cameron's own ruling Conservative party published a list of areas where they want decision-making brought back to London.

The fact that the group, who represent about one third of Cameron's parliamentary party, drew up the “Manifesto for Change”, illustrates how much pressure Cameron is under from within his own party, the senior partner in a two-party coalition, to dilute Britain's four-decade-old EU links.

Cameron will deliver his speech - one of the most closely-watched Europe addresses by a British leader since World War Two - in Amsterdam on Friday, a choice meant to underline the fact that some other EU member states such as the Netherlands are sympathetic to many of his policies towards the bloc.

He is expected to say he will offer a referendum on any new settlement he manages to hammer out with the EU, probably in 2018. His prospects of success are uncertain, however, as it is unclear whether some other EU member states, notably Germany and France, will go along with his plan.

Andrea Leadsom, a Conservative MP and one of the group's founders, said she thought Cameron's proposed EU renegotiation strategy and the specific ideas her own group was pushing were realistic.

“In our manifesto we are very carefully treading a fine line between calling for things that are just going to be a non-starter, where the rest of Europe will say 'just forget it', and choosing those topics that are really important to Britain, that would really be a game-changer for Britain's relationship with the EU,” she told BBC radio.

Areas where the MPs, who call themselves the Fresh Start group, would like to see powers clawed back include large swathes of employment, social and criminal justice law. They are also pressing for an “emergency brake” on new laws that could affect Britain's powerhouse financial services industry, and are demanding that the EU agriculture and fisheries budget be overhauled.

The MPs are also asking Cameron to withdraw Britain from the EU “regional policy” which sees EU funds handed out to poorer regions, and to press him to restrict the rights of future immigrants from countries such as Romania and Bulgaria.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • willi1

    poor brits!
    you want everything for you and the rest is for the rest.
    the rests of your imperium are concentrated the “City”, but you still think “big”.
    it is time that fresh generations take over the government in Britain. Once Scotland is out: What is left to pay your debts? you should be happy to be member of the EU.

    Jan 17th, 2013 - 08:46 am 0
  • Clyde15

    Scotland out ? When will that happen ? I live in Scotland and this is news to me !
    The EU should be happy that we are a member as we are a net contributor to the budget.
    When we joined the EU it was a free trade area which benefited all members. The common agricultural policy was designed to suit the French and caused UK food prices to rise but we had to accept that as price of membership.
    Since we joined there has been a gradual push towards an United States of Europe. No one asked the UK population if this was what they wanted so maybe it is time we had a voice in any decision made about this. To ask for this does not mean we are anti-European.

    Jan 17th, 2013 - 10:18 am 0
  • Ken Ridge

    “Once Scotland is out: What is left to pay your debts? you should be happy to be member of the EU.”

    It seems you would enjoy a break up of the UK ? It is highly unlikely that Scotland will break from the union, the ties between Scotland and the rest of the UK are very strong. I believe Scotland will in time enjoy more power to conduct it's own affairs, but will still remain in the union.

    As for EU, I think most in the UK would be happy to remain as a trading block, however as Clyde15 has stated we do not want a Unites States of Europe which is the way things are starting to sway, we need a referendum on this issue and soon.

    Jan 17th, 2013 - 11:14 am 0
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