Tories sceptical over plan to reduce EU's powers

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Indy Politics

Grassroots Conservatives believe that David Cameron will fail in his attempt to win back significant powers for Britain from the European Union if he becomes Prime Minister.

The sense of disappointment among Tory members over Mr Cameron's "softly, softly" approach to Europe is highlighted in a poll by the ConservativeHome website.

Asked what Britain's relationship with Europe would be like after a four or five-year term with Mr Cameron as Prime Minister, 41 per cent predicted that "a few powers will be won back but nothing significant", 20 per cent believed more powers would be lost to Brussels, and 20 per cent thought the relationship would be about the same. Just 13 per cent felt that "significant powers will have been won back" and 6 per cent believed that "Britain will be on the verge of leaving the EU".

Earlier this month Mr Cameron upset Eurosceptics by dropping his promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty after it was ratified by all 27 EU member states. Although he said a Tory government would demand the repatriation of powers on employment, criminal law and the EU charter of fundamental rights, he made clear that he would have more important priorities such as tackling economic problems.

The survey showed that Tories have low expectations of what Cameron will achieve on the economy. 73 per cent said they were worried that the shadow Chancellor George Osborne would "not cut spending enough" and would rely on "too many tax increases" to cut the public finance deficit.

Mr Osborne began to outline proposed spending cuts at last month's Tory conference but he refused to rule out tax rises to reduce the deficit, estimated at £175bn in the current financial year. There has been speculation that an incoming Tory government would raise VAT but the Tories insist they have no plans to do so.