Tory Eurosceptics hope Jean-Claude Juncker will claim EC presidency and push Britain out of Europe

MPs predict public backlash against EU as David Cameron loses battle to stop federalist being appointed European Commission president

political editor

Eurosceptic Tory MPs secretly hope that Jean-Claude Juncker gets the top job in Brussels because they believe it would boost the prospects of the British public voting to quit the European Union.

In public, the sceptics are backing David Cameron’s last-ditch attempt to stop the former prime minister of Luxembourg being appointed European Commission president at a summit of EU leaders on Friday. But in private, Tory MPs who want Britain to leave the EU predict that the veteran federalist would give Mr Cameron few concessions as he tries to win a new deal for the UK ahead of the 2017 in/out referendum he has promised.

Douglas Carswell, the MP for Clacton who is a member of the Better Off Out campaign, tweeted: “Please let it be Juncker. Please. Pretty please. C’mon Angela” – a reference to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is now backing Mr Juncker’s appointment despite her initial doubts.

Mr Carswell told The Independent that some of his tweets were “tongue in cheek” but added: “Plenty of truth is said in jest.”

He praised Mr Cameron for opposing Mr Juncker but made clear that he hoped for a blacklash if EU leaders gave him the job. He said: “If your criticism is that the European establishment is out of touch and doesn’t recognise legitimate popular concerns … If they behave in a way that demonstrates that point more effectively than a Eurosceptic Tory backbencher ever could, then [that’s a] nice one.”

Lord Leach, the Tory peer who chairs the Open Europe think tank, which supports reform but not withdrawal, said: “Mr Juncker’s appointment would be a bitter blow to the pro-European cause, bolstering the Outists’ line that the EU is unreformable.”

A senior Tory MP and prominent Eurosceptic said: “It’s a win-win for us. If the PM stops Juncker, that’s fine. If he doesn’t, it’s great for us because it will show the public that the EU is incapable of change and they will vote to come out.”

A moderate Tory MP who wants Britain to remain in the EU said: “The Europhobes are desperate for Juncker to get it. They think he would be the best possible recruiting sergeant for an Out vote.”

Mr Juncker predicted that he would land the job and had a dig at Mr Cameron. He said in Berlin: “I am not designated EC president yet. If common sense prevails this will happen at the end of the week – but it seems that common sense is very unequally distributed, so one will have to wait.”

With Mr Cameron facing virtual isolation at the summit, Tory MPs are stepping up their pressure on him to declare that he is ready to recommend in the referendum that Britain leaves the EU.

Mr Cameron has always said he intends to campaign for an “in” vote if the new terms of membership he negotiates are good enough. But Downing Street is now signalling for the first time that he might urge an “out” vote. It said EU leaders should consider that decisions taken in the next few years would “affect British voters’ views of the EU, and is likely to affect the way they vote in any such referendum”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England