LETTER: David Cameron is playing with fire over EU

Much of the first part of David Cameron’s speech on Europe - the part delivered as Prime Minister - was sensible in calling for reform of the EU to achieve competitiveness, complete the single market and secure openness.

His sound rejection of ‘doing a Norway’ - implementing all EU rules with no say - was also correct. He showed he had listened to President Obama in saying that EU membership strengthens our relationship with the US.

But he undid most of that good work by his remarks as Tory party leader pitching to the Eurosceptic gallery. He played with fire in talking up the possibility of a ‘Brexit’ if a unilateral repatriation exercise failed, and cannot even guarantee his own ‘Yes’ vote. He created utter confusion in recalling the current UK effort to pull out of EU policing and criminal justice measures in the same breath as - rightly - stressing the importance of European cooperation on crime and terrorism. He gratuitously insulted directly-elected Members of the European Parliament by ignorantly saying that only national parliaments are democratic.

The most damaging impact is the prospect of five years of delay, which will discourage investment for jobs in Britain - while a ‘new settlement’ is supposedly negotiated and put to a vote. Far better to work with our like-minded EU partners in campaigning for legitimate reform for a relevant, more focused and better-value EU than alienate them with a wearying and distracting negotiation with an uncertain outcome.LibDem MEP

Bill Newton-Dunn

MEP for the East Midlands, Navenby