Backbench demand for EU budget veto thwarts Cameron's bid to set the agenda

Hague to warn that EU could disintegrate because of a lack of democratic mandate

David Cameron's attempt to restore his authority suffered a setback yesterday as he was hit by a new Conservative backbench rebellion over Europe.

The Prime Minister was caught between a rock and a hard place after Tory MPs demanded that he veto the €1 trillion European Union budget for 2014-20, just as he was deserted by key allies, including Germany, in his battle to freeze EU spending.

Tory MPs expressed fears that Mr Cameron is winning the political argument with Labour but in danger of losing the next election because he is failing to get his message over to voters. Some are dismayed that, a week after his widely praised speech to the party conference, he was blown off course by his botched announcement about keeping down energy bills and the long-delayed resignation of Andrew Mitchell as Chief Whip.

Europe has now risen to the top of Mr Cameron's agenda ahead of a summit of EU leaders next month to decide on spending. Two years ago, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland were among countries backing Britain's call for the budget to remain flat in real terms. But yesterday the German government revealed that it is backing a "moderate" increase to about 1 per cent of European gross domestic product, less than the 1.1 per cent proposed by the European Commission, but a move which leaves the UK isolated.

In the Commons, Mr Cameron pledged that Britain would "stick to our guns". But Downing Street stopped short of saying he would block the EU budget unless spending is frozen, even though he has a veto as it must be approved by all 27 member states.

Mr Cameron, who will hold talks with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in London on 7 November, said neither country was prepared to back further big rises in spending. "I don't believe that German voters want that any more than British voters," he said. In a speech in Berlin today, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, will warn bluntly that the EU could become "democratically unsustainable" unless countries such as Britain are allowed to regain powers from it rather than cede more control to Brussels.

While insisting the Government is committed to playing "a leading role" in the EU, Mr Hague will say: "Public disillusionment with the EU in Britain is the deepest it has ever been. People feel that in too many ways the EU is something that is done to them, not something over which they have a say.

"People feel that the EU is a one-way process, a great machine that sucks up decision-making from national parliaments to the European level until everything is decided by the EU. That needs to change. If we cannot show that decision-making can flow back to national parliaments then the system will become democratically unsustainable."

He will call for a "flexible" EU which does "not disadvantage those that do not wish to participate in everything". Number 10's refusal to declare its hand on the EU budget fuelled Tory fears of a climbdown. John Redwood, the former Cabinet minister, said: "Some of us would like him [Mr Cameron] to veto any budget which does not cut the [EU] figure substantially, given the chronic state of many European governments' finances."

Another Eurosceptic, Douglas Carswell, warned: "Mr Cameron is simply not going to get a majority in the Commons unless he recognises there can't be a real-terms increase in the EU budget." Tory backbencher Nick de Bois said the Government was struggling to communicate its policy successes. "The real problem is we're actually winning the policy arguments but we're losing some of the politics that go around it," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Co-Ordinator - FF&E

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior FF&E Project Co-ordinator is re...

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Carer / Support Worker plus Bank Support

£10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A delightful, 11 year old boy who lives in t...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor