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."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
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
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little