- `We're all euro-skeptics now,' cabinet minister says
- Chinese ambassador says membership is matter for U.K.
Conservative members of the U.K. parliament support Prime Minister David Cameron’s reform strategy on European Union membership, Defence Minister Michael Fallon said, when asked about a newspaper report that the premier plans a cabinet reshuffle to stem a rebellion.
“We’re all thoroughly behind the PM in his reform agenda,” Fallon told BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday. “We’re all euro-skeptics now, I don’t see any euro-fanatics round the cabinet table.”
Government ministers believe Cameron plans a cabinet reshuffle to oust members who most strongly oppose EU membership, the Sunday Times reported, citing an unidentified senior party member. He’s dropped more than half of his initial pledges for change in the terms governing Britain’s relationship with the bloc, according to an e-mailed statement Sunday from Vote Leave, a group campaigning for exit from the EU.
A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said reports of a reshuffle are inaccurate, according to the Sunday Times story.
Cameron told China Central Television on Saturday that he was confident his negotiations on European membership terms would produce a “good deal” for Britain, according to an interview transcript released by the broadcaster.
Among the proposals dropped by the prime minister are steps to prevent additional powers flowing to the EU, and shielding the financial services industry from some of its rules, according to the Vote Leave statement. Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum by 2017, and last week bowed to pressure to clarify the changes he wants.
Debate on the issue is building. The pro-membership group Britain Stronger in Europe said in a statement Sunday that implementing some reforms, such as integration in finance, transport and energy, could add 58 billion pounds ($90 billion) a year to the U.K. economy by 2030.
An Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror poll published Saturday showed 40 percent of those surveyed think more people will vote to stay in the EU, compared with 37 percent who think more people will vote to leave. ComRes interviewed 2,051 adults online on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15.
The prospect of a reshuffle comes as Cameron prepares to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit this week. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to Britain, told the Sunday Telegraph that the EU decision is “the U.K.’s business.”
The best thing for China “is to sit back and watch,” he said. “We have to accept the outcome.”