27 May 2014

Cameron planning EU reform after Ukip ‘earthquake’

Prime Minister David Cameron is pushing other EU leaders to embrace reform following the political “earthquake” that saw eurosceptic parties succeed in the European elections.

Mr Cameron has spoken with at least six European Union leaders over the past few days to press the case for EU reform, ahead of a scheduled summit in Brussels.

Downing Street said the prime minister told other EU leaders to “heed the views expressed at the ballot box that the EU needs to change and to show it cannot be business as usual”.

A Number 10 spokesman said Mr Cameron told them that the results and low turnout in the European Parliament elections “underlined the need for reform to ensure that the EU is doing more to deliver what voters care about – jobs, growth and a better future”.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, organised by the Business for Britain advisory board, business leaders called on the government to detail plans to negotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU.

David Cameron urges European Union reform

The letter, signed by major Tory donors including Sir Michael Hintze – who donated more than £1.5m earlier this year, said the UK electorate had “voted for change and a chance to have their say”.

“We urge political leaders in both Westminster and Brussels to listen and respond to the message of change that the voters have made clear they want now, not later,” the letter said.

The message of “change” follows a drubbing of main political parties by Eurosceptic movements across Europe.

Nigel Farage

The “political earthquake” on Sunday night saw Marine Le Pen’s Front National win in France, Ukip win in the UK and the extreme-left Syriza movement win in Greece.

A number of far-right, and in some cases openly neo-Nazi, parties also made major gains.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said he has now set his sights on Westminster – and will be seeking to overturn a 16,000 Conservative majority in the Newark by-election next week, before setting his sights on the general election in 2015.

Nick Clegg

The fallout of the European and local elections has been most damaging for the Liberal Democrats, and Nick Clegg has been facing calls to step down as party leader.

Mr Clegg was bolstered on Tuesday by the announcement from Vince Cable – seen as a potential successor – that there “is no leadership issue”.

Mr Clegg said on Monday that he would not “walk away” from the party, despite the “heart-breaking” European election results.