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January 14, 2013 11:46 pm
Gordon Brown used to claim it was ludicrous for rich countries like Britain to pay money into a regional pot in Brussels, only for it to be recycled to help support poorer regions like Cornwall. David Cameron wants to repatriate Britain’s regional aid programme, but support for southern and eastern Europe likely to continue.
Social and employment law
Many Tories want Britain to set its own employment laws, but France will fiercely oppose what it regards as attempts at “social dumping”. The biggest Tory bugbears are the working time directive (which is also unloved in Berlin) and temporary agency workers directive, both of which Mr Cameron is likely to target.
Hugely unpopular with the Conservatives ever since Britain joined the European project in the 1970s. Viewed as highly centralised and working against the interests of small fishermen in the UK because foreign vessels have access to some territorial waters. They say it is not even any good at sustaining fish stocks.
Justice and policing
Britain has signed up to around 140 separate measures – including the European arrest warrant – intended to fight cross-border crime and terrorism. David Cameron wants to use a one-off “block opt-out” opportunity to pull out of all those measures in 2014 - he will then try to “opt back in” to the ones he thinks are most worthwhile.
A core of 30 or so backbenchers – many are in the “Better Off Out” group – will not be satisfied until Britain has withdrawn from the European project. These MPs brought about the biggest post-war rebellion on Europe in 2011 when they tabled a motion to have a referendum on Britain's relationship with Brussels. So trenchant is their position that Downing Street has written off this bunch as the “awkward bastards”. Prominent members include Douglas Carswell, David Nuttall and Philip Davies.
The Tory majority who, like David Cameron, want to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels. They favour staying in the EU, but only if powers can be repatriated. The “Fresh Start” group, made up of over 100 backbenchers, have come up with a list of demands, from reforming the Common Agricultural Policy to opting out of EU crime and policing measures. Prominent members in this group include George Eustice, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris and John Redwood.
There is a group of up to 30 MPs who privately describe themselves as pro-European. However, most of them are reluctant to publicly defend the European project and Britain’s place in it, for fear of retribution from their local associations and voters. In recent years, the younger europhiles have left it to the elder statesmen of the Tory party – Lord Heseltine and Ken Clarke – to make the case for Europe. Those willing to stick their heads above the parapet include Robert Buckland, Laura Sandys and Margot James.
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