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Cameron irked on Europe as backbenchers rattle the referendum cage

22 October 2012

5:00 PM

22 October 2012

5:00 PM

Throughout his statement on the European Council, David Cameron seemed slightly irritated. One sensed that the headlines of the last few days have rather got under his skin.

Cameron began by declaring that the Council meeting had made ‘limited progress’, which is hardly much to report to the House. He also was unable to resist another pop at Chris Bryant; complaining that he still hadn’t apologised to him when the Labour MPs asked a question.

It was striking what a pro-European tone Ed Miliband took in his response to Cameron. It was all about how Cameron was losing control of his party over Europe and needed more friends there. When Cameron asked him if he agreed with Jim Murphy that there should be an In/Out referendum at some point, Miliband emphatically shook his head.

But, as is always the case with these European statements, the most interesting questions came from Cameron’s own backbenchers. Intriguingly, Cameron dodged the question when asked if his proposed referendum on the coming ‘new settlement’ would offer an out option.

One answer Cameron did give, though, was particularly revealing. When Julian Lewis pushed him on whether for Eurozone banking union to succeed it would have to lead to something approaching a country called Europe, Cameron agreed.

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