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
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: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower