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David Cameron's EU battle is to focus on exit risks

By PA Reporter

Published 27/06/2015

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron is planning to focus his EU referendum campaign on the "risky" consequences of a British exit, according to a leaked negotiations document.

The note, obtained by The Guardian newspaper, is reported to be an account of a meeting between the Prime Minister and one of his 27 EU counterparts during his bout of whirlwind diplomacy ahead of this week's European Council summit.

According to the paper, Mr Cameron wants a UK exemption from the EU's commitment to forge "ever closer union", in addition to giving parliaments the right to team up to block EU plans.

He is also said to want a renewed focus on economic growth, as well as measures to impose new restrictions on EU migrants claiming benefits.

The leaked document states that Mr Cameron would like to hold the referendum next year, ahead of his self-imposed deadline of December 2017.

It suggests "Angela and Matteo" - referring to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister - had responded positively to his proposals, but that the French were "warier" about free movement and welfare reforms.

And it adds that the PM might be prepared to accept a protocol to incorporate the reforms into EU treaties, rather than the "full-on" treaty change he once favoured

The note reads: "The PM said he had deliberately not produced a lengthy shopping list and had been careful in formulating his wish-list, but he needed to get satisfaction on these reform demands. He said that he needed to win the middle ground, moderate people needed to feel that the things that bother them about the EU have been dealt with."

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "We're not going to give a running commentary on negotiations."

But Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the note showed the renegotiation of the terms of EU membership was "a con job".

The PM secured agreement to kick off behind-the-scenes talks during late-night discussions in Brussels on Thursday.

Prior to the summit, Mr Cameron met around 20 EU leaders and spoke to others by phone to set out the concerns he would like to see addressed.

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