As the Prime Minister arrives in Berlin for talks with Angela Merkel, an influential group of MPs tells the Prime Minister he must win back significant powers from Brussels, even if it means using the “nuclear option” of defying EU rules.
Downing Street said yesterday that the Prime Minister this week agreed with US President Barack Obama on the need for an “immediate plan” to resolve the eurozone crisis.
Warren Buffett, the world’s most successful private investor, also urged eurozone leaders to integrate their economies more closely.
“They’re in on a common currency but they’re not in on a common fiscal policy or a common culture or common labour practices,” he said. “It can’t be half slave and half free. European leaders need to resolve some of the union’s weaknesses.”
Mrs Merkel has suggested that Germany will only compromise if other eurozone members agree to move towards a full-blown political union.
Moves towards that union will be debated at an EU summit in Brussels later this month, and are likely to mean changes in the EU’s treaties.
In the negotiations on a new treaty, Mr Cameron will be under intense pressure to fight for a new deal for Britain.
Foreign Office sources have suggested that using negotiations meant to save the euro to advance the British position would be irresponsible and counterproductive.
But Mrs Leadsom today reminds Mr Cameron that dealing with the single currency’s problems does not reduce the case for renegotiating Britain’s EU membership.
“Whatever happens to the euro, the EU Treaties will still be there, full of faults and unintended consequences,” she writes. “Britain desperately needs a radically different approach to its relationship with the EU.”
The Fresh Start group has spent months studying Britain’s relationship with the EU and will shortly publish its findings, a detailed list of powers that the Government could realistically repatriate from Brussels.
As an example of the work, Mrs Leadsom sets out options on financial services including stronger Parliamentary scrutiny of EU rules and a change in EU voting rules on new regulation.
She also suggests that Britain could simply refuse to accept EU regulation that it does not think are beneficial to the UK financial services industry.
The Conservative backbench demand comes amid intense debate in the party about its future European policy.
Meanwhile, the Coalition parties are said to be split over repatriation. Whitehall officials were last year instructed to start looking for areas where power could be won back.
That work is largely complete, but officials say that a disagreement between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has blocked any further progress.
That has led senior Conservative ministers to use the Fresh Start group as an alternative forum for advancing the eurosceptic cause.
In a significant intervention, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, will launch the Fresh Start group’s full report next month.
Some Conservative MPs – including a small number of ministers – are increasingly attracted to the idea of a referendum that could leave to Britain leaving the EU.
Mrs Leadsom urges a more constructive response. “If you’re not happy with the way things are, you should come up with something constructive instead of just moaning,” she writes.