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Tory MPs call for rethink on Europe

A new parliamentary group of eurosceptic Conservative MPs will meet to discuss Britain's position in Europe amid growing unrest in the party.

Around 80 new-intake MPs will develop policy ideas and attempt to make the most of having a "Government with a eurosceptic prime minister".

It comes as a new report claims the eurozone crisis has given the UK an "historic opportunity" to shake-up the way it operates in Europe.

Think-tank Open Europe, which will work closely with the new Tory parliamentary group, called for the Government to extend its localism agenda - devolving power as low as possible - to the EU.

In the Case for European Localism report it calls for a raft of reforms, including giving Parliament the right to approve the UK appointment of judges to the European Court of Justice and the introduction of a new mechanism to enable member states to repatriate powers over certain policy areas.

It also argues that a new "red card" system should be introduced that would force the EU to abandon legislation if two-thirds of national parliaments objected.

Anthony Browne, one of the authors of the report, said: "The euro crisis shows that this principle has been tested to destruction, and there is now huge hunger across Europe - its citizens, parliaments and governments - for a more flexible, less coercive, more democratic approach. Only that way will the EU be able to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

Conservative backbencher George Eustice, one of the conveners of the parliamentary group, insisted the purpose of its meeting today was not to cause trouble for the party's leadership.

"We are in government with a eurosceptic prime minister, we should be using this time to present a cohesive policy about how we take back powers from Europe," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron was pressed on the issue a number of times last week but senior Tories admit they are being hampered in their plans to launch a power-grab on Brussels by the Liberal Democrats.


From Belfast Telegraph