UK will never be able to fundamentally reform the EU, Nigel Farage warns

The Ukip leader is also expecting a surge of support for his party after the EU referendum

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Indy Politics

Britain will not be able to fundamentally change the European Union despite David Cameron’s renegotiation bid, Nigel Farage has said.

Ukip’s leader warned that “government after government” had pledged to reform the EU but that no fundamental change to the bloc ever came about.

“The problem is reform in Britain means something completely different to reform [in Brussels],” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We asked for something really tiddly and yet it’s difficult to get that. Imagine if we’d asked for fundamental change? 

“We are not going to change this European Union, it is hell-bent on full integration and if we stay members of it we will be dragged in its wake.”

David Cameron is locked in talks in Brussels with other EU leaders and Brussels officials on the first day of an EU summit to decide how to change the terms of membership.

The Prime Minister faces opposition to his changes to in-work benefit rules from east European countries with high levels of emigration. 

There are also suspicions about other proposals on the single market that some countries worry could privilege the City of London.

European Council president Donald Tusk said there had been “some progress” on the issues in discussions overnight but that “a lot remains to be done”.

Mr Farage predicted that Mr Cameron would be offered some kind of deal at the summit to help him save face but that it would amount to “scratching around the edges” without “fundamental change” on offer.

Mr Cameron’s own backbenchers criticised a draft deal drawn up by Mr Turks and endorsed by the Prime Minister that was revealed earlier this month.

Eurosceptics said the plan was “thin gruel” and “watered down” – largely because Mr Cameron was not offered the four-year block on in-work benefits for EU migrants he had requested.

Mr Tusk instead suggested a one-year waiting period after which benefits would phase back in over the next three years.

The Prime Minister has pledged to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the European Union and then hold a referendum on whether to stay in the bloc.

Mr Farage suggested that there would be “people, Conservative voters and Labour voters, who will be irreconcilable after this referendum”.

Ukip appears to be expecting as surge of support after the vote – similar to the one the Scottish National Party benefited from after the Scottish Independence referendum.

The EU in-out referendum was pledged in the Conservative manifesto before the end of 2017 – but the plebiscite is now expected to be held as early as June of this year.