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Tory MPs pressuring David Cameron to regain EU powers

By Andrew Grice

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are to demand that David Cameron overrules Nick Clegg and ensures the Government grabs back some powers from Brussels before the next election.

The Fresh Start group, which has the support of 120 Tory MPs, is drawing up a "shopping list" of functions that should be handed back to the UK by the European Union.

They could include control of employment laws, health and safety measures, farming and fishing, justice and crime, and structural funds for poor areas. The group's demands will be set out in an alternative 'White Paper' in July. The move shows that Tory MPs, while welcoming Mr Cameron's decision to veto a new EU treaty designed to rescue the euro, will press him to go further - even though that would increase tensions with the Liberal Democrats.

Andrea Leadsom, co-chairman of the group, said yesterday: "The eurozone crisis is going to be a catalyst for change and a chance to ensure a better relationship for Britain within the EU."

She said the Lib Dems could not have a veto on repatriating powers, pointing out that the Coalition Agreement says the Government "will examine the balance of the EU's existing competences." She said: "We must seize the opportunity now; we must get on with it. Some Lib Dems might not like David Cameron's use of the veto but the Coalition is not going to break up over this."

Top of her shopping list is a new EU rule allowing member states to opt out of Brussels directives whenever they have a change of government.

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