Deeper and deeper: Cameron wades deeper into the EU renegotiation quagmire

David Cameron's European policy is now wholly geared towards an EU referendum in 2017
David Cameron's European policy is now wholly geared towards an EU referendum in 2017
Alex Stevenson By

David Cameron took another step towards staking his political career on his EU renegotiation this weekend, by insisting he will achieve a good result for Britain.

The prime minister insisted he was "confident" he could persuade Brussels officials and European leaders to agree to the shopping list of changes to the way the EU operates now being sought by the UK.

Having made clear he would not remain in No 10 if he cannot deliver an in-out referendum on Britain's future in Europe, Cameron moved closer to suggesting he would get his way in the negotiations to come.

"I am confident I will achieve the objectives I've set out," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.


"I am tremendously upbeat, bullish and optimistic… we have a plan and that's the most important thing in politics – to show people you have a plan."

Cameron admitted some of his changes would require treaty change. He suggested free movement of people within the EU needed to be restricted to its "original concept" of the "freedom to be able to work in another country".

"There is a sense in this country that I understand and in many ways share that we wanted to be part of a single market – but we do not want to be part of a country called Europe," he added.

The prime minister said he wanted to see a 'red card' on EU policies where national parliaments unite to block them.

And he called for further moves against European tourism, saying he would like to extend the period in which new arrivals in Britain are not eligible for state handouts to "longer than we have today".

"If you travel and work from another European country into Britain you can then claim child benefit and other benefits for your family back at home, even though they're not living at home," Cameron complained.

"Under the current rules it seems extremely difficult if not impossible to change that."

His comments come just ten days before European elections in which Cameron's Conservative party face a bruising set of results at the hands of eurosceptic voters turning to Ukip.

A poll by Survation for the Mail on Sunday put the Tories down four points to 21%, with Labour steady on 28% and Ukip up one to 32%. The Liberal Democrats, the most pro-European offering for voters, stands on just nine per cent.

Cameron used an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper to lay out the Conservative case to floating voters.

"If you're reading this thinking 'I've heard all this before' – I get it," he wrote.

"I was watching, too, when Labour made Britain the doormat of Europe and signed British taxpayers up to eurozone bail-out funds. So I understand the scepticism.

"But if you want proof that we will deliver, just look at our record. Those bail-outs Labour signed us up to? I pulled us out of them.

"When there was an EU treaty that wasn't in our interests, I refused to sign it — the first British prime minister to do so.

"And we are the party who got the EU budget cut for the first time, saving British taxpayers £8.15 billion."

Cameron's arguments have been reinforced in recent days by a concerted attempt to get the prime minister in the headlines – most notably by the decision for him to appear 'normal' by dining in a Nando's restaurant, resulting in the political selfie of the week.

 

 

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