Syed Kamall: Tory MEP who helped David Cameron with EU renegotiation joins Leave campaign

Mr Kamall is the most senior Conservative in the European Parliament

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Indy Politics

The leader of the Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament - who helped broker David Cameron’s renegotiation package - has said he wants to leave the EU.

In a symbolic blow to the Mr Cameron, Syed Kamall said he believed that “on balance we could forge a better future outside” the bloc.

The top Tory in Brussels said that he thought the Prime Minister’s EU renegotiation had given the UK a “better deal” but that it was not good enough for him to stay in.

David Cameron's EU deal has left some Tories wanting to leave the bloc

He cited wanting a fairer immigration policy for people coming to Britain outside the EU as his main reason for wanting to leave.

“After much thought, my personal decision is to vote to leave the EU; not because I think David Cameron did a bad job, but because I believe that on balance we could forge a better future outside,” he said.

Mr Kamall acted as a go-between for the Prime Minister and EU officials during exchanges over the reforms.

He made his statement on Friday morning as Boris Johnson claimed that leaving the bloc would be “win-win for all of us”.

The Mayor of London said at a speech in Kent that there were no downsides to leaving the bloc and that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

David Cameron has permitted his MPs and Cabinet ministers to campaign on either side of the European Union referendum, which is due to take place on 23 June. 

The PM secured provisions to cut EU red tape, protect the single market for non-eurozone members, and exempt Britain from “ever closer union”.

He also secured a more limited version of the four-year freeze on in-work benefits for EU migrants that he had set out to achieve.

Some Conservative eurosceptics have described the package as “thin gruel” and “watered down”, however.

Grassroots Out, one of the campaigns looking to leave the European Union, is holding a national day of action on Saturday urging voters to leave the European Union. 

Mr Kamall leads the Tories in the European Parliament

Tom Pursglove, the co-founder of the group, said the campaign to leave the bloc was attracting support from all corners of the political world.

“Every week more and more people are coming out to support the GO campaign to get Britain out of the EU,” he said.

“As well as having campaigners from across the political spectrum GO is attracting many people who have never been aligned to a political party but want to be a part of this vital cause of making Britain an independent and global facing country once again.”

But campaigners looking to remain in the bloc have warned that leaving could have serious negative consequences for Britain.

Richard Howitt, a Labour MEP who co-presides European Parliament's all-party Disability Rights Group, said in a speech today that disabled people could lose out from Brexit.

87,000 British disabled people were helped towards work by European-funded training last year – and would not have been so if Britain was no in the EU, he argued.

“In all the talk of 'free movement', what about the right of a wheelchair user to move freely to visit another European country?” he said.

“Discrimination doesn't stop at borders. On the table, we have a European-wide general Accessibility Act, that could further transform the lives of millions of people.

“People with disabilities will always campaign to pull down barriers.  In the European referendum, the Disability Movement should campaign against erecting new barriers.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will later give a speech in Wales arguing that British farmers will be worse off outside the EU.

Mr Cameron will claim that the move will push up the cost of British beef exports by £240m a year.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna also told BBC News this morning that the Leave campaign was playing “fast and loose” with jobs that relied on EU exports.