EU Anti-Brexit Deal Goes to Wire

EU Anti-Brexit Deal Goes to WireEU Anti-Brexit Deal Goes to Wire

David Cameron’s negotiations with fellow European Union leaders spilled into a second day, as he pleaded for a deal on the UK’s membership of the bloc that he can sell to British voters.

The prime minister encountered goodwill from his 27 EU counterparts in Brussels but also ran into resistance from eastern European states over demands for more welfare curbs on non-British citizens that took some participants by surprise.

France led a group of euro-area nations that objected to his plans to carve out an exclusion from the currency area aimed at protecting the financial industry in London, Bloomberg reported.

Cameron warned that he needed EU leaders’ help to win a referendum on staying inside the bloc, according to three European officials with knowledge of the meeting who asked not to be named because it was not public.

With no breakthrough in sight, one-on-one talks were scheduled through the night and EU officials braced for the negotiations to stretch into Friday night and perhaps the weekend.

  Winning Vote

In his opening contribution to the debate, Cameron told the room that a draft accord published at the start of February had gone down badly at home, according to one of the officials. He told leaders he was confident he could win the referendum on Britain’s EU membership, but only if they granted him what he was requesting without watering down the terms, they said.

“I will not take a deal that doesn’t meet what we need,” the prime minister told reporters on Thursday as he arrived for the two-day summit. “It’s much more important to get this right than to do anything in a rush.”

Cameron’s move to restrict social payments is aimed at discouraging migrants from traveling to the UK and taking advantage of a welfare system more generous than many other EU countries provide. His rationale was underlined by data this week that showed the number of people from other EU countries employed in the UK rose to 2.04 million at the end of 2015, compared with 1.23 million five years earlier.

  Final Offer

Belgium was, meanwhile, said to be pushing for language to be inserted into the deal to make it clear that it is a final offer, and that rejecting it will mean Britain leaves the EU.

Cameron is aiming to seal a deal at this summit that would allow him to announce a referendum as soon as June 23 and has said he will campaign to keep the UK in the EU. As the talks went into the small hours, British newspapers had already made up their minds about the outcome.

The prime minister’s negotiations are a “shambles,” Friday’s Daily Mail said on its front page, alongside a photograph of Cameron looking anxious.