David Cameron under intense pressure from pro-EU Tory backbenchers on eve of long-awaited referendum speech

 

David Cameron came under intense pressure on Europe today from  the rival factions inside the Conservative Party on the eve of his landmark speech in which he will promise an eventual referendum on the issue.

A group of 25 pro-EU Tory backbenchers wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to set out a "positive British vision for leadership in Europe" in his long-awaited speech in the Netherlands tomorrow. They said: "We are concerned that an over-emphasis in your speech on renegotiation and a referendum rather than leadership could undermine the [EU] single market. The UK has potential allies on many key issues, even on the merits of repatriating some powers.”

The MPs, including the former Cabinet ministers Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Caroline Spelman and Stephen Dorrell, warned: "We fear that a renegotiation which seems to favour the UK alone would force other capitals to ask why they cannot simply dispense with those parts of the single market that don't suit them."

But Mr Cameron received conflicting advice from three long-standing Eurosceptics  - John Redwood, Bill Cash and Bernard Jenkin – who declared that concerns about the single market could not be allowed to override all other considerations regarding Britain's relationship with Brussels. They published pamphlet, “The EU Single Market - Is It Worth It?”, which argues that its benefits are "vastly overstated", claiming that the EU is in  long-term decline while Britain's non-European markets were expanding and offering greater opportunities.

Mr Jenkin said: “The idea that the EU 'single market' has to be the only factor which overrides all other considerations of policy about the EU is wrong. It is one amongst many.”

Ed Miliband warned today that a Europe referendum would create uncertainty and damage the economy. "The Prime Minister is taking us to the economic cliff," he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. "I fear the Prime Minister's strategy is leading us towards the exit, which will cause real damage to our economy.”

The Labour leader tried to head off Tory attacks on his party for being too pro-European by saying that Britain needs to regain “some powers” from Brussels. He cited regional policy, so that the UK Government could have a more pro-active industrial strategy.

Nick Clegg also warned that a referendum could jeopardise job-creating foreign investment in Britain. In his weekly phone-in on London’s LBC radio, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "I don't think you protect the jobs dependent on Europe if you suggest you're headed to the exit door. I believe that having years of paralysing debate of if we're in or out of [Europe] is damaging."

Suggested Topics
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 year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine