23rd Oct 2016

Cameron seeks good will of MEPs in 'Brexit' talks

  • David Cameron held talks with European Parliament political leaders. (Photo: European Parliament)

British prime minister David Cameron has sought assurances from leaders of the main political groups in the EU Parliament that they will not pick apart a deal on the UK's reformed EU membership, which may be agreed later this week at an EU summit.

The parliament president Martin Schulz told the press after his meeting with the British leader that he supported a fair deal for Britain and a speedy legislative procedure, but insisted he could not pre-empt the results of the process.

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The EU Parliament would be responsible for framing new rules based on some of the British prime minister's requests, particularly regarding cutting welfare payments to EU workers living in the UK.

Syed Kamall, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in which Cameron's Tories sit, said the British PM and EP lawmakers had looked into which kinds of assurances the EP could give on any future deal. Cameron wants the EP to send a strong message that it will not alter substantially any agreement made between the member states.

"The aim is to have a statement of intent, of good will. However, no group leader can guarantee how everyone in his group will vote," Kamall said.

MEPs in the limelight

Cameron also urged MEPs to "expedite" the legislative procedure so that anti-EU campaigners would not exploit the time between the closing of the deal and the legislative cycle.

The issue of legislative procedure following any possible deal has emerged as the next possible hurdle for Cameron.

"The EP is in the limelight now, and it will play up its role on this," Kamall said.

Other MEPs talk of optimism that the UK deal will go through the EP quickly.

Catherine Bearder, a Liberal Democrat MEP, told this website that Cameron was likely to get a deal that he and other leaders would be able to live with.

“If all the heads [of state] can agree to a deal, then we can agree," she said.

Guy Verhofstatd, the liberal leader in the EP, also said that the UK's requests should be accommodated, but that those who wanted to further with EU integration should be able to do so.

"We are in favour of a deal that recognises the special place for the UK within the EU," Verhofstadt said.

He urged the UK to stay in the EU for geopolitical reasons.

"The only two men who gain from Brexit are Farage and Putin - they have an interest in dividing Europe," he told the press after meeting Cameron, referring to UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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