Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Fresh Start’s EU powers threat could focus the mind

It is always an understatement to say that David Cameron can’t possibly satisfy his party with his Europe speech this week: the reason being that there is no one unified position on the EU within the Conservatives, with different groups calling for different responses to Europe.

Today the Fresh Start Group of Tory MPs publishes its ‘Manifesto for Change’ which will propose a list of powers that Britain should repatriate from Europe. Cameron has already made clear that he will be seeking a new relationship with the EU, and so the Fresh Start MPs will be hoping that he will pick up some of their ideas. For them, it is the renegotiation that is the crucial element of Cameron’s speech. Andrea Leadsom also made clear in her Today interview that it was ‘a bit simple to say we want to return to the Common Market’ as the group believed there were areas where ‘we can co-operate very happily and constructively with the EU’.

But lest they grow too excited about the Prime Minister granting their every wish in two days’ time, Foreign Secretary William Hague says in his foreword to the manifesto:

‘Many of the proposals are already government policy, some could well become future government or Conservative Party policy, and some may require further thought.’

This reminds them that some of these ideas are for long-term discussion, rather than something the PM can grant now.

For now, the group’s manifesto includes a demand for the repatriation of all social and employment law, such as the Working Time Directive. James revealed last week that the latter was one power the Prime Minister was considering as an early candidate for repatriation.

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