David Cameron under pressure from MPs as EU demands end to rebate

Summit begins with feud as Italy and Spain call for immediate help with borrowing rates

Brussels

David Cameron was under mounting pressure on Europe last night as 100 Conservative MPs demanded a referendum and he tried to head off moves to abolish the £3bn-a-year rebate on Britain's EU contributions.

In a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister, Tory MPs urged him to pass a law before the 2015 general election to guarantee a referendum "on the nature of our relationship with the EU" during the next five-year Parliament.

John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, said in the letter that the case for a referendum "is growing by the day". He argued that the "meddling" EU is "very different" to the EEC Britain joined in 1973, pointing out that no one under 55 has had a chance to vote on our membership. A referendum pledge made "sooner rather than later", he said, would address "the very real lack of public trust" in politicians.

The growing Tory campaign gave Mr Cameron a headache as he attended yet another EU summit overshadowed by the eurozone crisis.

Deep divisions emerged as Italy and Spain, backed by France, demanded urgent measures to lower their crippling borrowing rates. An acrimonious summit dragged on late into the night as Italian and Spanish leaders threatened to delay approval of a €120bn "compact for jobs and growth" unless they secured immediate help on their borrowing costs.

The moves by Spain, Italy and France increased the pressure on Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to do more to bolster the single currency. Although there were some signs that she might soften her hardline stance against pooling government debt, her room for manoeuvre was limited because she needs to win approval today from the German parliament for the EU's new bailout fund. When the fractious summit ends today, EU leaders are expected to ask four senior EU officials to draw up by December an historic "road map" and timetable for genuine economic and monetary union. Yesterday's talks began a debate on the EU's €1 trillion spending plans for 2014-20.

The European Commission wants to scrap the rebate on Britain's payments won by Margaret Thatcher, which refunds the UK 66 per cent of the difference between its payments to and receipts from the EU. The Commission argues Britain no longer needs the rebate – a view echoed at the meeting by Mario Monti, the Italian Prime Minister, who described it as unacceptable.

Mr Cameron put down a marker by declaring that the rebate would not be surrendered or cut in budget talks due to conclude in December. "It is not up for negotiation," said one UK official. The Prime Minister will come under huge pressure to make concessions. He had an understanding with Nicolas Sarkozy that Britain would not demand radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy if France did not attack the UK rebate. But the deal is unlikely to be maintained by François Hollande, France 's new President.

The Prime Minister was embroiled in a separate row over where a long-planned European patent court should be based. Germany and France ganged up to squeeze London out and split the court between Munich and Paris. Mr Cameron was accused of holding up the summit when he blocked the move. Plans for a single European patent is a saga that has been running for almost 40 years.

Over a working dinner last night, Mr Cameron rejected demands for Britain to join the banking union, saying it should apply only to the 17 eurozone countries.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine