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Tory MP: Ministers should be free to vote for EU exit

Conservative ministers should be able to campaign for the UK to leave the European Union in an in-out referendum, an influential backbench Tory MP has said.

David Cameron has already discussed EU renegotiation with European leaders. Credit: Reuters

Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, said David Cameron should allow ministers "freedom of expression" on the issue of EU membership to avoid tension.

The prime minister will meet members of the '22 committee today having already spoken to European leaders about renegotiating Britain's relationship with the EU since he was re-elected on Friday.

Mr Brady urged Mr Cameron to avoid "constraining people's views" to enable a "civilised intelligent debate".

"My instinct in these things is always that way you have people who have very very strong beliefs about something, it is far better to recognise the strength of those views and to allow latitude and freedom of expression," he told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour.

Peter Bone: Cameron will fail in European negotiations

Peter Bone, a high profile Eurosceptic backbencher, tells ITVNews he thinks David Cameron will fail in his renegotiation with Europe.

What I want him to do is exactly what he says he's going to do, which is to hold the referendum by the end of 2017. He has also said he'd like to bring it forward if he can do that, that's great too.

I think he'll go to Europe, I think he'll negotiate very well, but I think he'll fail to get the British people want, not because of his efforts, but because what the European bureaucrats, they live on a different planet.

I'll campaign to stay out of the European super state.. we'll see what the British people decide.

– Peter Bone

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European Council urges Cameron to keep Britain in EU

The European Council President has urged David Cameron to help keep the UK within the EU.

Donald Tusk said he counted on the re-elected Prime Minister to make the case for Britain remaining in the European Union and was ready to help him do so.

Tusk, a former centre-right Polish prime minister, said in a statement that Britain played a key role in ensuring that Europe had a "common sense agenda", emphasising the need for a competitive economy, an effective single market and free trade.

Mr Cameron has used his re-election speech to promise to hold an in-out EU referendum by the end of 2017.

I count on the new British government making the case for the United Kingdom's continued membership of the European Union. In that I stand ready to help.

I am deeply convinced that there is no better life outside the European Union, for any country. A better EU is in the interest not only of Britain but of every member state.

– European Council President Donald Tusk

Miliband: Tories pose 'danger' to business with EU plans

Ed Miliband has warned that Tory plans to hold a referendum on Britain's membership with the European Union pose a "clear and present danger" to jobs and prosperity.

Ed Miliband will outline his fears for business if an EU referendum is held in 2017. Credit: PA Wire

The Labour leader will use the first day of the official campaign period to warn that David Cameron's plans for a referendum in 2017 will lead to "two years of uncertainty".

In a speech at Bloomberg in London today, Mr Miliband will say businesses will face years of "chaos" and will be left unable to plan for the future if the the Tories win power on May 7 and the referendum goes ahead.

Miliband will say that his party will not "condemn this country to years of uncertainty, years of insecurity, by threatening our European future".

Cameron's Europe plan dubbed 'Mission: Impossible'

David Cameron may never arrive in Brussels in a Prime Ministerial motorcade again, so he used this occasion to make his European pitch.

Before he puts a referendum before the British people, he must put a renegotiation to the 27 other members of the European Council. But the President of the European Council Donald Tusk compared Cameron’s plan to a Tom Cruise movie - Mission: Impossible.

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PM sets up £20 million fund for eastern European states

David Cameron has launched a new drive to bolster former communist states under pressure from Vladimir Putin as the stand-off between Russia and the West over Ukraine continues.

The Prime Minister is setting up a £20 million Good Governance Fund to strengthen democratic institutions across a series of Eastern European states to help them counter intimidation from the Kremlin.

Prime Minister David Cameron arrives ahead of the EU Summit . Credit: Wiktor Dabkowski/DPA/PA Wire

British officials said the scheme is based on the Know-How Fund set up by Margaret Thatcher following the fall of the Berlin Wall to help Poland and other former Soviet bloc states make the transition to democracy.

The move came as EU leaders meeting in Brussels agreed there would be no easing of sanctions against Moscow until it was clear the Minsk ceasefire deal was being fully honoured.

Greek PM 'more optimistic' after EU talks on financing

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he was "more optimistic" after three hours of talks with the leaders of Germany, France and EU institutions on the possibility of further financing.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Credit: APTN

"I'm more optimistic after this deliberation. I think that all the sides confirmed their intention to try to do their best to overcome the difficulties of the Greek economy as soon as possible," Tsipras said on leaving the talks in Brussels.

The prime minister said all parties had promised they would work to restore Greece's funding ability as soon as possible.

Merkel: Greece promises to speed up bailout agreement

Greece has promised to speed up implementing its extended bailout agreement and send a full list of detailed reform proposals to its eurozone partners, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Credit: APTN

Following an overnight mini-summit with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, French President Francois Hollande and heads of the main EU institutions, Merkel said euro-area finance ministers are ready to meet soon to evaluate the reform plans.

However, she declined to set any date for releasing further aid to the cash-strapped Greek government, saying that depended on a positive evaluation of the reform proposals.

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