Boris Johnson has said he has not yet decided whether to support David Cameron’s campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union.
The Mayor of London – a possible successor to the Prime Minister – held talks at Downing Street with Mr Cameron to discuss his position on the issue.
Emerging from Downing Street he reportedly said that nothing had changed in his position.
The delay in whether to back the PM’s renegotiated position comes as Mr Cameron is locked in negotiations with European leaders over the nature of a deal to change Britain’s membership of the EU.
After that deal is secured the PM plans to hold and in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the bloc – possibly as early as June this year.
But Mr Cameron was told yesterday by eastern European countries including Poland that a draft plan to restrict EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits would not fly, however.
Emerging from Downing Street after the talks, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I’ll be back – no deal as far as I know.”
Sources close to the Mayor say he will make his position clear after the EU summit to determine the reforms to the bloc.
Mr Johnson is one of a number of favoured successors to Mr Cameron, who has said he will step down before the next election.
Other contenders include the Home Secretary Theresa May, former defence secretary Liam Fox, and the Chancellor George Osborne.
The Mayor has characteristically blown hot-and-cold on the EU issue in recent years, making statements that are sometimes interpreted as eurosceptic but also shying away from backing exit.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
At the weekend he said Britain should not be “afraid” of Brexit and last month he said Britain could have a “great future” outside the European Union.
Last year he said he could vote to leave the EU but would wait to see how Mr Cameron’s negotiations went.
A draft deal drawn up by European Council president Donald Tusk was hail by Mr Cameron as a victory in his negotiations – but the deal’s proposals on restricting EU migrant benefits appeared to not go as far as previously suggested.
Polls suggest the deal has been rejected by the public, most of whom believe it is a “bad deal for Britain”. Leading eurosceptics in Mr Cameron’s own party have described the plan as “thin gruel” and “watered down”.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm for the plan at home Mr Cameron however faces and uphill struggle to get countries with large numbers of EU nationals coming to the UK to agree to it.
He will attend a further summit in Brussels on Friday where he will discuss the situation with EU leaders.Reuse content