Major offers olive branch to Euro rebels

Click to follow
JOHN MAJOR has offered another olive branch to his backbench rebels by proposing a new Eurosceptic agenda for the next, crucial round of European negotiations. The move comes as one of the MPs now without the Conservative party whip, Richard Body, was told by his constituency to reapply for it.

Mr Major's campaign to woo back the whipless nine MPs will be bolstered by the first news of the Government's priorities for the 1996 Inter-Government Conference. Senior sources said the British agenda would revolve around reform of the CAP in the aftermath of enlargement of the EU, spreading subsidiarity and deregulation, and limiting powers of the European Parliament Areas where the Government wants more European co-operation, such as foreign and security policy and sharing of information over crime, should, Mr Major will argue, be done on a voluntary basis. A minister, possibly David Davis, will soon be appointed to begin preliminary negotiations with European partners.

Meanwhile, Tory rebel Michael Cartiss, MP for Great Yarmouth, has offered a new proposal to Mr Major aimed at ending the state of hostilities between the Government and Eurosceptic back-benchers.

He told the executive of his Conservative association that the Mr Major ought to enlist a trusted Tory veteran - possibly Sir John Hunt, MP for Ravensbourne - to make approaches to get the "whipless nine" back into the parliamentary party.

Christopher Gill, rebel MP for Ludlow, is due to meet his association executive tomorrow night. He agreed yesterday with another whipless back-bencher, Nicholas Budgen, MP for Wolverhampton SW, who wrote in yesterday's Times that: "Bad luck and mismanagement got the Government into this jam. Generosity and firm leadership will get us out of it."