UK Prime Minister David Cameron's position has been undermined after several of his party members threatened to lead a call for Britain to exit the EU. Unless Cameron agrees to renegotiate London's terms with the bloc.
Around 50 members of Cameron's Conservative Party threatened to support a bid for Britain to leave the European Union unless the prime minister discussed fresh terms for Britain.
"Unless senior EU officials awake to the possibility that one of the EU's largest members is serious about a fundamental change in our relationship, our recommendation to British voters seems likely to be exit," lawmaker Steve Baker told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
The new group, called the Conservatives for Britain (CfB) pledged to initially support Cameron's efforts to renegotiate terms with Brussels. However, if the prime minister failed to secure changes such as regaining control over free trade, the lawmakers would withdraw their support.
"If the EU is not willing to return significant powers to our shores, then Britain should leave," CfB co-founder David Campbell Bannerman said, adding that restricting freedom of movement of EU citizens and making EU rules subordinate to Britain's laws were his group's agenda.
Cameron, who unexpectedly won the UK general election last month, promised voters that he would seek reforms in the EU, making it tougher for EU migrants to seek
financial benefits and jobs in Britain. The leader has pledged to talk to EU leaders and hold a referendum on the outcome by 2017.
The prime minister also faces additional challenges on the issue from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) which has said it was starting the "ground war" for Britain to exit the EU. The party, which won over 12 percent of the vote in May's elections, believes that its "No" campaign will not have time to organize and mobilize if it waits for Cameron to negotiate.
"The one thing Mr. Cameron is not asking for, because he knows he won't get it, is an end to the total free movement of people," UKIP's head Nigel Farage told British media on Saturday.
EU countries have expressed criticism towards UK's demands, with Poland's EU affairs minister Rafal Trzaskowski calling the demands "too extreme" to be met. "You cannot keep all the goodies and forget about the costs," he told The Observer newspaper on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph referred to an ICM survey that said 59 percent of Britons supported staying in the EU while 41 wanted to leave the bloc.
mg/bk (AFP, AP)