As published in The Sunday Telegraph:
Show us EU plan, say Tories
David Cameron has been challenged to produce an immediate, “clear and precise” plan for renegotiating Britain’s membership of the European Union as he faces growing divisions in the Conservative Party over Europe.
David Davis, Mr Cameron’s former leadership rival and a former shadow home secretary, said the leadership should “express fairly precisely what our negotiating strategy is going to be”.
“It is not going to be some sort of private issue the Government can sort out amongst themselves. It’s important the British public understand what is at stake,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “We need a very thorough, very public, very clear debate about what the negotiating strategy should be and we should have it now.”
The Prime Minister has been given a six-week deadline by rebel Tory MPs to publish a plan for clawing back powers from Brussels if he is to avoid a “disaster” in elections for the European Parliament in May.
The Sunday Telegraph disclosed last week that 95 back-bench Tories were supporting a demand for Parliament to be given a new power to veto EU laws.
Many MPs believe Tories will be “hammered” in the European elections and some warn that a disastrous result could prompt an attempt to oust Mr Cameron as leader.
Mr Davis called for “imaginative” policies, such as a proposal to exempt 95 per cent of UK firms from EU regulations, rather than “tinkering” with the existing arrangement.
A poll disclosed last night that the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for a complete withdrawal from the EU, is viewed more favourably by voters than both the Conservatives and Labour.