POLITICS

David Cameron Evokes Winston Churchill In Meeting With EU President Jean-Claude Juncker

26/05/2015 08:12 BST | Updated 29/05/2015 20:59 BST

David Cameron has channelled Winston Churchill as he met European Union president Jean-Claude Juncker and told him that it "needs to change".

As Cameron began his charm offensive on Juncker, whose election he condemned less than a year ago as a "serious mistake", by showing him to the rooms Churchill used at Chequers and wrote his wartime speeches.

In a less-than-subtle comparison between his own drive to reform the EU, for which Juncker's support will be crucial, and Churchill's fight in the Second World War, Cameron told Juncker to "Think of 'we'll fight them on the beaches'" when he was showing the ex-Luxembourg president the room.

cameron juncker

"'I will fight you on the...' I mean, 'We will fight them on the beaches'"

He also showed him Churchill's brandy glass before they shared a dinner of pork belly, bacon and seasonal vegetables.

Cameron invited Juncker to his country residence as he stepped up pre-referendum efforts to secure a reformed relationship with Brussels, which he will then take to the people for an in or out vote in a referendum, which he has promised to hold by the end of 2017 but many observers expect to be sooner.

Cameron has conceded that securing a deal will take "patience and tenacity".

"The Prime Minister underlined that the British people are not happy with the status quo and believe that the EU needs to change in order to better address their concerns," a Number 10 spokeswoman said.

"Mr Juncker reiterated that he wanted to find a fair deal for the UK and would seek to help. They talked through the issue at some length in the spirit of finding solutions to these problems.

"They agreed that more discussion would be needed, including with other leaders, on the best way forward."

Legislation paving the way for the referendum will be published on Thursday, and will confirm that most EU citizens living in the UK will be denied a vote and that the franchise will not be extended to include 16 and 17-year-olds.

At the same time, Cameron will embark on a whistle-stop tour of European capitals as he seeks to bolster pro-reform alliances with other leaders before the next major summit in June, visiting Denmark, the Netherlands and France on Thursday, and Poland and Germany on Friday.

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The announcement that the referendum would be run using the same franchise as for general elections - excluding around 1.5million EU citizens living in Britain - provoked a mixed response.

French-born SNP MSP for North East Scotland Christian Allard, who will be ineligible, said however that it was a "democratic disgrace".

There was wider condemnation of the failure to follow Scotland's much-applauded independence referendum move to allow votes at 16.

Labour said it was a "matter of principle" that those old enough to pay tax, marry and join the armed forces should not be voiceless in such an important national decision and said it would table an amendment to extend the franchise.

Questions were also raised over why expatriates who have lived abroad for more than 15 years would not be given a say, despite the Conservative manifesto promising to axe the time limit in favour of "votes for life".

In what may be a blow to his hopes, it was reported by French newspaper Le Monde that France and Germany were preparing to unveil a deal at that gathering that would allow further integration of eurozone countries without needing to reopen the EU's ruling treaties.

Le Monde said it had seen a joint document sent by German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande to Juncker on Saturday ahead of the June summit.

It suggests that a move towards deepening integration between the countries using the single currency can be achieved within the constraints of the existing treaties, reducing the prospect of using treaty change to repatriate powers to London.

Juncker has made clear his opposition to reopening the treaties.