David Cameron in dash to EU capitals to avoid being isolated over budget freeze

 

David Cameron will hold an intensive round of meetings with other European leaders over the next two weeks in an attempt to avoid being  isolated on the EU budget  at a crucial summit.

The Prime Minister is expected to visit some European capitals and invite the leaders of some other countries to Downing Street to try to rally support for his plan for a real terms freeze in EU spending for 2014-20.

Although Germany, France, the Netherlands and Finland backed Britain’s call for a freeze in 2010,  Germany is now supporting a small above-inflation rise and the then leaders of  France and Finland have since lost power.  Mr Cameron, who has urged these countries to stick to their guns, may also lobby nations such as Spain and Italy.

The Prime Minister’s talks with Angela Merkel, the  German Chancellor, on Wednesday night failed to end the deadlock. There are fears in London that other EU members may coalesce around her proposal for a modest increase in spending – less than the 5 per cent real terms rise sought by the European Commission.

Ms Merkel floated plans for a cut in EU administration costs in Wednesday’s talks at Number 10.  But Mr Cameron believes that, with running costs accounting for only about 6 per cent of the total EU budget, the move would not secure the backing of Eurosceptic Tory MPs.  Fifty-three of them joined forces with Labour last week to inflict an embarrassing Commons defeat on Mr Cameron by demanding a cut in EU spending.

However, Labour also has its tensions over Europe.  Ed Miliband was accused of opportunism by backing the Tory sceptics last week, a move which angered the Liberal Democrats and Labour Europhiles and worried some business leaders, who fear the UK is heading down a slippery slope towards the EU exit door.

Writing in The Independent today Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, tries to reassure Labour’s critics by insisting that it remains a pro-European party.   He insists the Opposition was right to demand “restraint and reform” of the EU budget to ensure the European project has “solid foundations” . But he argues that Labour remains an internationalist party committed to Britain’s future in Europe.  “In the months and years ahead Labour will continue to make the case for reform of Europe and not exit from Europe,” he writes.

Fears among Europhiles and business leaders that the increasingly heated debate could push Britain out of the EU were heightened yesterday by a YouGov poll showing that 49 per cent of people would vote leave the Union if there were a referendum now, while only 28 per cent would vote to stay in the EU and 17 per cent replied “don’t know”. In contrast, 57 per of Germans would vote to remain in the Union.

There are growing signs that EU leaders may not reach agreement at the two-day summit on the budget in Brussels starting on November 22.  With Mr Cameron threatening to veto a deal, which requires unanimous support of all 27 leaders, they  may have to put off a decision until next year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee