European elections 2014: Looming disaster rattles Tories
David Cameron's MPs demand action over an EU vote
David Cameron faces a fresh rebellion from his own MPs in the wake of today's European election results, which are expected to confirm Ukip's dramatic political breakthrough.
The Prime Minister is under pressure from ministers and backbenchers to threaten to vote for withdrawal from the EU if significant treaty changes are not secured before a 2017 referendum on the UK's membership of the bloc.
Tim Loughton, the co-chairman of the moderately Eurosceptic Fresh Start Project of about 100 Conservative MPs, said Mr Cameron would be treated seriously by the electorate and EU leaders only if he warned that he could lead an "out" campaign.
George Osborne appealed to voters after Ukip’s recent electoral success The Prime Minister and senior Tories launched a fightback operation this weekend after Ukip snatched more than 160 council seats in Thursday's local elections. Nigel Farage's party is expected to come first in the European elections when the results are announced later today. In a speech to activists yesterday, George Osborne said he respected Mr Farage and his party's voters and admitted "there are too many people who share our values but did not feel able to vote for us on Thursday night".
In a speech to the ConservativeHome conference in London, the Chancellor added: "The modern Conservative Party will never dismiss or belittle the views of the people we aspire to represent.
"We should show the highest respect for those who go out and cast their vote – and respect too those who cast their vote for another party. That includes those who voted for Ukip on Thursday. We're going to do what I believe the public wants us to do – listen, respond and deliver.
"Listen to the legitimate concerns people have about our economy, about immigration and welfare, about our schools and about Europe. Respond to the anger justifiably felt with answers. And then deliver with an economic plan that provides the security that families crave."
Urging Tories to work "harder than this party has worked for a generation", Mr Osborne added: "The EU was supposed to make our country more prosperous, but the taxes and burdens it imposes risks pricing our continent out of the world economy. So I understand why the public are sceptical of politicians bearing new promises.
"It is our task over the next year to convince them that we will deliver, that the decisive in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU will happen. David Cameron could not have been clearer. The Conservatives will not form a government – he will not be the Prime Minister, unless that referendum is assured."
Tory MPs including Tim Loughton want action over EU membership and reforms But speaking to The Independent on Sunday, Mr Loughton said of Mr Cameron: "By just saying he would want to stay in the EU whatever plays to Euroscepticism. If he says he can envisage a situation where he reluctantly says Britain would have to go it alone then that adds credibility [to negotiations for some powers to be repatriated to the UK].
"I would like Cameron to say: 'We're serious about these reforms, and if there aren't significant reforms then I too would consider, even though it is not my preferred position, I would be prepared to vote no. If significant reform doesn't happen, we gave it a shot, but we'll go it alone.' That strengthens your hand. It's then not just a pipe dream that you would pull out without significant reform."
Mr Loughton's words carry weight as Fresh Start is considered relatively moderate with some pro-European members. The group has been working loosely with senior party figures, such as Foreign Secretary William Hague, over what parts of the UK's relationship with Europe should be renegotiated while also researching how the country economically benefits from being part of the EU.
Many within Fresh Start would like to see the common agricultural policy overhauled. They also want to ensure that non-eurozone countries retain their voting rights so that a two-tier EU does not emerge.
Next month's Queen's Speech could set the scene for a fresh rebellion on Europe after the Government conceded that it would let MPs table four amendments to bills, one more than the current number. This would mean rebels have an opportunity to stage a repeat of their rebellion last year which forced Mr Cameron into legislating for a 2017 referendum. The concession means the parliamentary time between now and the general election could be dominated by Tory MPs debating the issue of Europe.
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Sex abuse inquiry: 'Victims receive death threats' after MPs release names online
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...
£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...