New 'Iron Lady' orders Cameron to win back powers from Brussels

Incoming head of Tory Eurosceptics has drawn up 'shopping list' for PM

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are to demand that David Cameron overrules Nick Clegg and ensures the Government grabs back some powers from Brussels before the next election.

The Fresh Start group, which has the support of 120 Tory MPs, is drawing up a "shopping list" of functions that should be handed back to the UK by the European Union.

They could include control of employment laws; health and safety measures; farming and fishing; justice and crime; and structural funds for poor areas. The group's demands will be set out in an alternative "White Paper" in July. The move shows that Tory MPs, while welcoming Mr Cameron's decision to veto a new EU treaty designed to rescue the euro, will press him to go further – even though that would increase tensions with the Liberal Democrats and Britain's UK partners.

Andrea Leadsom, co-chairman of the group, told The Independent yesterday: "The eurozone crisis is going to be a catalyst for change and a chance to ensure a better relationship for Britain within the EU."

She said the Liberal Democrats could not have a veto on repatriating powers, pointing out that the Coalition Agreement says the Government "will examine the balance of the EU's existing competences". She said: "We must seize the opportunity now; we must get on with it. Some Lib Dems might not like David Cameron's use of the veto but the Coalition is not going to break up over this."

Top of her shopping list is a new EU rule allowing member states to opt out of Brussels directives whenever they have a change of government. That would allow the Coalition to end the maximum 48-hour week under the EU's working time directive, agreed when Labour was in power.

Brussels would regard such a "Europe à la carte" as a recipe for chaos which undermined the EU's basic principles.

But Ms Leadsom insisted that it would put elected governments back in the driving seat. "The massive problem with the EU is that it still holds to directives and measures signed 40 years ago. It is ludicrous to say you can change national governments every five years but that you can never change anything that comes out of Europe," she said.

"You can go from a right-wing government to a left-wing government but you cannot change anything from the EU even though it accounts for about half of the laws of the land."

She insisted that the vast majority of Tory MPs want to remain in the EU rather than pull out. She heads a group of pragmatic Eurosceptics which, with William Hague's support, is being advised by Foreign Office officials on which powers might be returned to the UK.

"We are looking in a very detailed way on what could be done differently," she said. "The Government is keen on that. There is no wedge between the Government and [Tory] backbenchers on this."

Ms Leadsom's other priority is to defend the City of London from future EU regulation amid concern that the EU has an "anti-London" agenda aimed at boosting the rival financial centres of Paris and Frankfurt. She is a rare political animal in that she held senior posts in the City during a 23-year career in banking and finance before becoming MP for South Northamptonshire in 2010. Her experience has led to her being tipped for ministerial office.

Described as the Tories' "Iron Lady of banking", Ms Leadsom likened the UK's financial services sector to Germany's car industry as she rejected calls by Germany and France for a financial transaction or "Robin Hood" tax. "If we proposed a tax on every car produced to bail out Europe, that would destroy Germany's automotive industry," she said. Ms Leadsom backed the Prime Minister's controversial use of the veto at last month's Brussels summit and denied it would make it harder to persuade EU nations to return powers to the UK.

"People now realise we are serious – that we are not going to be rolled over," she said.

Film premiere: Thatcher's old boys turn on 'ghoulish' biopic

Meryl Streep may be the bookies' favourite to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Baroness Thatcher, but several of the former Prime Minister's cabinet colleagues have given The Iron Lady a raspberry.

The former Foreign Secretary Lord Hurd is the latest to criticise the film, describing as "ghoulish" the depiction of Lady Thatcher in old age.

He told the Evening Standard: "The flashback scenes show a woman suffering a form of dementia, but that lady is very much alive. That should have given them pause to wait."

Lord Tebbit, former chairman of the Conservative party, said she was never "the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep". Sir Bernard Ingham, a long-term adviser to Lady Thatcher, said he had "serious reservations" about the film, and Lord Heseltine, who left her cabinet in 1986, said it was "extremely distasteful" to depict her "problems of advanced old age".

The stars, including Streep and Jim Broadbent, who played Denis Thatcher, trod the red carpet last night as The Iron Lady premiered at the British Film Institute. Lady Thatcher's family turned down an invitation to see the film. Its director, Phyllida Lloyd, told the BBC: "I quite understand them not wanting to see it in the public gaze, so we're not sure whether they have seen it or not."

Nick Clark

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