EU referendum: Leave disarray down to ‘egos’

Prime Minister David Cameron. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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THE PRIME Minister has won his first ringing endorsement of his EU referendum deal from Scandinavian ally Denmark while the campaign to leave the union is marred by rowing members.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen told a press conference in Copenhagen that he truly believed the package of reforms would ‘create a better Europe’ and pave the way for other states to address their own welfare rules.

Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, Alec Shelbrooke.

Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell, Alec Shelbrooke.

After a week of forensic analysis of David Cameron’s proposals from across the political spectrum, the British Prime Minister was clearly delighted to have won such public backing during the televised meeting of the two heads of state.

Mr Rasmussen told the conference that the document released by President of the EU Council Donald Tusk on Britain’s proposed reforms earlier this week was a ‘good basis’ for the coming negotiations at February’s crunch meeting of all 28 member states.

“It contains many elements which Denmark strongly supports,” he said.

“I support all the elements on access to welfare benefits, in particular I welcome the proposal to index child benefit for children living in other member states.

“We need to ensure that EU citizens move across borders to work and not to seek high level of benefits. We must be able to protect our national welfare system.”

At home the campaign to leave ran into difficulties with two separate groups Vote Leave and Leave.EU both vying to be designated as the official Leave campaign when David Cameron calls a referendum.

The official campaign group will get considerable access to public funds, and a spending limit of up to £7m granted by the Electoral Commission.

Labour MP Kate Hoey has also quit Vote Leave but will continue to co-chair the Labour Leave campaign.

However one Yorkshire MP said that for the ‘man in the pub’ there is little interest in various groups trying to pitch themselves as the champion of out campaigners views.

Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell Alec Shelbrooke said the bickering between campaign groups is ego driven, and will do nothing to convince the 40% of the electorate currently undecided on whether to vote to stay or leave the EU.

He said: “What’s going on in the leave campaign sums up the whole campaign - that it’s about egos. It doesn’t surprise me at all what’s gone on. The people who are making the decision - the voters - won’t have paid attention to this and won’t be making their mind up until later in the year.”

If Britain’s draft deal remains relatively unscathed when it goes before the 27 other member states at the end of the month, Mr Shelbrooke said he would vote to stay in the union.

Fellow Yorkshire Conservative, Kevin Hollinrake MP who represents Thirsk and Malton, has also been convinced of the Prime Minister’s case to remain within a reformed EU.

Heeding Mr Cameron’s advice to not merely take the view of ‘what your constituency association might say’ on the EU referendum, Mr Hollinrake said his local party members were aware of his generally pro-Europe stance.

He said: “I would much rather stay in a reformed EU.

“It’s important to show leadership as a Parliamentarian. It’s not practical to run a referendum if you’re to make decisions by running a referendum across your constituency. I was selected and elected on the basis that I would rather stay in a reformed EU so everybody in the association is aware of my position.”