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
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor