David Cameron today suffered a blow in his attempt to block Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next EU Commission President after his European allies announced a tie-up with a German rival to Angela Merkel.
Mr Cameron has been attempting to gain Ms Merkel’s tacit acceptance that a new candidate – more acceptable to Britain – should to be found for the job.
But that has now become much harder after some of his own MEPs defied pleas from Downing Street and voted to admit Ms Merkel’s CDU rivals – the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party – into the Tories’ European Parliament Grouping.
The decision to allow AfD’s seven MEPs to join the European Conservatives and Reformists grouping will increase tensions with Ms Merkel and her party and make it more difficult for her to back down in her support for Mr Juncker.
In a separate move, the Conservative MP Bob Neill said he will be the figure head of a new bid to enshrine the Tory pledge of an in-out EU referendum in law.