Tory Eurosceptics give Cameron list of demands for reform

Fresh Start group is accused of 'snarling like a pit bull' over calls for radical change

Conservative backbenchers will pile pressure on David Cameron this week ahead of his critical speech on Britain's relationship with the European Union, by demanding radical reforms in key areas including policing, justice and employment laws.

The Fresh Start Group's "Manifesto for Change" will set out demands for five treaty changes and 12 reforms it insists must be made to "rebalance" the UK's position in the EU. The Independent on Sunday understands that the overhaul includes opting out of 131 EU policing and criminal justice laws, and clawing back powers over working hours and extraditions.

The Prime Minister will make a landmark speech in the Netherlands next week setting out his own plans to bring back powers from Brussels before putting them to a public vote after the next election. The set-piece event has reopened familiar Conservative splits over Europe, with several Tories joining colleagues from around the world in warning against weakening ties with Brussels.

Lord Heseltine criticised Mr Cameron's strategy yesterday, saying an "ill-advised" referendum would jeopardise the UK's business prospects – while the party's leader in the European Parliament complained that the UK was "snarling like a pit bull across the English Channel".

Another Europhile Tory, Ken Clarke, is expected to join forces with Labour peer Lord Mandelson to mount a counter-offensive against the rising tide of Euroscepticism. Along with Liberal Democrat Lord Rennard, they will spearhead the "Centre for British Influence through Europe" (CBIE) to oppose plans to disengage from the European project, according to a report in The Observer.

But the Fresh Start blueprint will concentrate Eurosceptic demands for a radical reallocation of powers if the UK is to remain in the EU. Andrea Leadsom, one of Fresh Start's founding members, said she hoped Mr Cameron would make it clear that "the status quo for Britain is not an option". She said the working time directive, which limits the number of hours employees can work, was being targeted for change – and suggested the UK should opt out of controversial laws on extraditing suspects within the EU and instead negotiate individual treaties with member states.

"With the eurozone crisis, there is no way the EU will ever be the same again," the South Northamptonshire MP said. "The eurozone seeks further integration and we must not stand in their way. The British people do not want to go down this route, and we must articulate a sustainable alternative."

Among the legislation targeted for change or "repatriation" is the "Prüm" regime requirement for mass sharing of data on criminals and ordinary citizens, and measures aimed at harmonising standards of criminal law, the prohibition of drugs and the balance between hate crimes and free speech. The manifesto argues that these should "be left to elected and accountable UK lawmakers to decide and the UK Supreme Court to interpret".

The authors of the manifesto claim that the UK should exercise its "block opt-out" from 131 of the EU's policing and criminal justice laws by May 2014 to allow Britain to retain national democratic accountability over its lawmaking. Rather than opting back in to any of these EU laws individually, the UK should pursue operational co-operation with EU partners through other means.

In a sign of how Mr Cameron is being influenced by the right of his party on Europe, the details of his plan which were reported last week are remarkably similar to that put forward by the Eurosceptic former defence secretary Liam Fox. In October, Mr Fox called for a renegotiated settlement with Europe, followed by a yes or no question in a referendum. Although the former minister and Mr Cameron have differences of view on the timing – Mr Fox has called for the terms of the renegotiation to be in place by this year's Tory conference – the Prime Minister is also thought to be leaning towards calling for a renegotiated settlement followed by a referendum.

Mats Persson, director of the think tank Open Europe, said it would be risky for Mr Cameron to set out specific terms for a renegotiated settlement and referendum so far in advance.

Although The Mail on Sunday last night claimed Mr Cameron believed it would be "mad" for Britain to leave the EU, and is secretly backing a move by Tory MPs to warn of the perils of cutting ties with Brussels, he is understood to sympathise with Fresh Start's ambition of renegotiating the most objectionable of EU regulations. But the timing of its manifesto launch will intensify the pressure to satisfy all the contending elements within his party and beyond.

Senior US official Philip Gordon spoke out last week against a referendum, claiming that Washington wanted Britain to remain a "strong voice" in the EU. The warning was echoed by leaders across Europe, particularly after George Osborne suggested in the German newspaper Die Welt that the UK could leave the EU if Brussels failed to reform.

The Bundestag's European affairs committee chairman, Gunther Krichbaum, said during a visit to London that a referendum could leave the UK isolated in Europe. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is believed to be cooling on plans to call for the major revision of EU treaties that would give Britain a chance to claw back some powers.

The belligerent rhetoric has dismayed many Tory Europhiles. Lord Heseltine said: "To commit to a referendum about a negotiation that hasn't begun, on a timescale you cannot predict, on an outcome that's unknown, where Britain's appeal as an inward investment market would be the centre of the debate, seems to me like an unnecessary gamble."

Richard Ashworth, leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, said: "Looking from Brussels towards Westminster, the tone sounds like it's them against us, and it simply isn't like that. We are taking an aggressive stance, snarling like a pit bull across the Channel. There are a lot of nations who are on our side. If we are talking about partnerships, we are making ourselves look pretty unattractive."

Poor timing

Mr Cameron's choice of 22 January to make his speech may be arbitrary (although it will be 96 years since US President Woodrow Wilson called for "peace without victory" in war-torn Europe).

But the decision has outraged the French and Germans, who will be marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée treaty, which sealed their post-war reconciliation and underpins the EU project.

"Choosing the 50th anniversary of the most important treaty between France and Germany to make a big anti-EU speech is a grotesque perversion," said former Europe minister Denis MacShane. "It's like a religious day for them."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

C++ Software Developer / Image Processing / 3D Visualisation

£45,000 to £55,000: IT Connections Ltd: C++ Software Developer / Image Process...

Java / J2EE Developer / Agile / Linux

£30,000 to £40,000: IT Connections Ltd: Java / J2EE Developer / Agile / Linux ...

Software Development Manager / Java / J2EE

£45,000 to £55,000: IT Connections Ltd: Software Development Manager / Java / ...

Digital Content Manager,Leicester

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Charter Selection: Leading Nationwide and important...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor