David Cameron Pressured Over EU, Promises To Show 'Bulldog Spirit'
David Cameron has pledged to show "bulldog spirit" when European leaders meet on Friday.
The prime minister faced tough questions from his own party and from the opposition during Wednesday's PMQs, but pledged to safeguard British interests. "The more that countries in the eurozone ask for, the more we will ask for in return", Cameron pledged.
Labour leader Ed Miliband ramped up the pressure on Cameron ahead of the summit, accusing him of going from "handbagging" and promising to repatriate powers to "handwringing" over Europe.
The clash came as it emerged Eurosceptic Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson had told the Spectator an EU referendum is “inevitable” if there is closer fiscal integration in the eurozone.
“If there was a major fundamental change in our relationship, emerging from the creation of a new bloc which would be effectively a new country from which we were excluded, then I think inevitably there would be huge pressure for a referendum,” he said.
“I think there will have to be one, yes, because I think the pressure would build up.”
Justice secretary Ken Clarke broke ranks with David Cameron on Europe on Wednesday morning, saying that Friday's crucial EU summit is not a good time to be trying to extract concessions from Brussels.
A Number 10 spokesman said on Wednesday that any treaty changes will need to go through Parliament.
Check out our liveblog to see what sticks and for all the colour and context from the Chamber
The verdict is mixed. Ed Miliband managed to get some effective hits in on both europe and cuts hitting the poor - but the real news is what's happening outside the chamber, in the European Commission meeting.
David Cameron promised: "the more eurozone countries ask for, the more we will ask for in return". We'll see if he delivers.
|@ georgeeaton : Formidable question from Labour MP Pat McFadden on repatriation of EU powers. Nowhere for Cameron to hide. #PMQs|
|@ labourpress : IFS: bottom 30% losing 3 times as much as richest 30% next year - slide 10 http://t.co/KKFfmFQm #PMQs|
Cam accuses his soundbites of getting "weaker and weaker" as his leadership gets weaker and weaker.
|@ MichaelWhite : #PMQs Labour's Mark Tami in good cheap joke about Cam's Xmas drinks with J Clarkson and Rebecca Brooks. "Quiet family Xmas,'' says Dave|
"Now former Labour PMs are jetting around in them", he says in a reference to Blair.
Cameron is insisting it's incorrect that poorest families will lose three times as much as the richest.
"It's incredibly difficult to deal with the debts and the deficit that the honourable gentlemen and his party left behind", but insists they will do it in a way that's fair.
Ed Miliband says he's wrong and goes in for class war: The figures are there. "He is hitting the poor. But there is one group to give him credit that he is easing the pain for... He's delaying for a year the tax on the private jets."
|@ Spectator_CH : Steve Baker essentially calls on Cameron to leave the EU and lead us into the 'post-bureaucratic age'....first backbench attack #pmqs|
|@ MichaelWhite : #PMQs Cam keeps saying it's Labour's policy to go into the eurozone, when it isn't and wasn't. Not in my lifetime, Ed Balls said y'day|
|@ iainmartin1 : Good grief, Osborne barnet has gone bouffant again. Time for urgent cuts #pmqs|
|@ joncraig : Glum faces on Tory back benches as PM blusters & waffles in response to Ed Miliband's questions on repatriation of powers from Brussels.|
|@ TimMontgomerie : Clever #PMQs from Miliband. Cameron vowed to repatriate powers 6 weeks ago when he faced a rebellion. Now he won't even mention the r word.|
Cam: Even the best scripted joke on handbags isn't going to save his leadership
Miliband: The short answer is that six weeks ago he was promising his backbenchers a handbagging for Europe, now he's just reduced to handwringing.
We like the Thatcher reference... But will the line of attack stick?
|@ paulwaugh : Good Q from Miliband #PMQs. Cam answer sounds v weak.|
PM says he needs to "explain".
"We'll have the key aim of helping to resolve the eurozone crisis... we will insist on some safeguards to Britain [if there is treaty change at the level of 27]"
"The more that countries in the eurozone ask for, the more we will ask for in return."
Ed M comes back with a good line: "The more he talks, Mr Speaker, the more confusing his position is."
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell asks: Will the PM show bulldog spirit in Brussells?
Cam says it's "exactly" waht he'll do.
The Brussels summit will not be discussing changes to wider framework of the EU, Number 10 have said. That's that then.
|@ DPJHodges : Ed M has one job today. Forget the sound bites. Just nail down Cameron on his 'red lines' for the Euro summit.|
"I don't want us to get in the way of trying to sort out the eurozone crisis", he says - but Tory MPs also don't want to give up any more sovereignty.