Wednesday

22nd Mar 2017

Cameron faces new EU referendum backlash

  • (Photo: bisgovuk)

David Cameron is under new pressure from a eurosceptic backlash inside his Conservative party, amid reports that up to 100 of his MPs will promise to vote for Britain's withdrawal from the EU after the next election.

The move, reported by the Independent on Sunday (August 31), follows the defection of backbench MP Douglas Carswell to the eurosceptic Ukip party last week. Carswell called a snap by-election in the process, stating that Cameron's promise to reform rather than leave the EU was one the principle reasons for his defection.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Up to 100 Conservative MPs have threatened to promise the UK's exit from the EU, despite David Cameron's pledge to rewrite the UK's membership terms. (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Opinion polls released over the weekend suggested that Carswell will hold his Clacton seat in Essex, a region where Ukip topped the poll in May's European elections, as Ukip's candidate by a margin of more than 40 points over the Conservative candidate.

Ukip has prioritised 12 seats, most of them currently held by Conservatives, as it tries to make its first breakthrough into the Westminster parliament, even as Conservatives fear that a surge in support for the anti-EU party would lead to Labour, which does not support an EU referendum, winning next May's election.

For his part, Cameron has promised to renegotiate the UK's EU membership terms followed by an in/out referendum in 2017 if the Conservatives win next year's election. He, and the majority of his ministers, have maintained that they would vote to remain in a reformed EU.

Meanwhile, a survey of more than 3,200 businesses across the UK found that six in 10 felt that a British exit would damage the country's economic prospects, although they supported renegotiation of the UK's membership terms.

Fifty nine percent of responding firms stated that leaving the EU would cause economic harm. Sixty percent believe that remaining in the EU while transferring specific powers back to Westminster would have a positive impact.

At the same time, 46 percent said that further integration with the EU would damage economic prospects.

“These results show that firms believe a renegotiated relationship with the EU, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver economic benefit for the UK," said John Longworth, the British Chambers of Commerce's director general.

Companies were "frustrated by the slow progress of the single market in services," he noted.

For his part, Donald Tusk, the newly appointed European Council chief, said at the weekend that he would "certainly meet the concerns voiced by Britain", adding that many of Cameron's plans to reform the bloc were "acceptable to reasonable politicians in Europe."

"No reasonable person can imagine an EU without Britain," he said.

Focus

Ukip surge in local elections ahead of EU poll

Nigel Farage's Ukip made its strongest performance in local elections in its twenty year history, raising expectations that the anti-EU party is poised to win Sunday's European elections.

Analysis

Self-defeating Tories fighting over Europe again

Most British politicos spent their summer on the beach or fretting about the Scottish referendum. But the UK Conservative party spent theirs having yet another bout of internal warfare over its attitude towards the UK’s EU membership.

Poll shows UK support for EU at 20-year high

The rise of the UK Independence party has coincided with increased support for Britain remaining part of the EU, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

News in Brief

  1. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  2. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack
  3. Brussels attacks remembered with minute of silence and noise
  4. Magnitsky's lawyer injured near Moscow
  5. Trump to travel to Brussels on 25 May for Nato summit
  6. Polish defence minister accuses Tusk of treason
  7. Fillon slips in polls as new allegations emerge
  8. Brexit summit for EU-27 will be on 29 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Advertisements
  2. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  3. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  4. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  6. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  7. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  8. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  9. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  10. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  11. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  12. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst