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Britain has long been viewed by many member states as the awkward partner in the European Union.

Diplomats now talk openly about the UK packing its bags and filing for divorce.

Officials and MEPs are angry over David Cameron’s threat to block anything less than a real-terms freeze on EU spending at Thursday’s summit of European leaders.

French MEP Alain Lamassoure of the centre-right EPP group chairs the European Parliament’s budget committee.

“We know that our British friends, since 1973, have always been difficult partners in the EU, but we have got used to working with them,” Lamassoure told journalists in Strasbourg.
“But now we see, since several weeks, a change in EU policy from a ‘new UK’,“he added.

But amid increasing Euroscepticism at home, and calls for a referendum on membership of the EU itself, Conservative rebels and the Labour opposition want a budget cut.

They joined forces to defeat the British prime minister in a parliamentary vote on October 31st.

Any agreement struck by Cameron in Brussels will be subject to a vote from MPs.

MEP Roger Helmer defected to UKIP from the Conservatives in March, citing his unhappiness with his former party’s EU policy.

UKIP are up in the opinion polls, threatening to steal many Tory votes at the next general election.

“Clearly Cameron won’t get agreement to reducing the budget, it won’t even get agreement to holding it static. So I don’t see he has any option but to veto,” Helmer told euronews.
“If he came back saying ‘oh well, I said we wouldn’t have an increase but I’ve agreed an increase of 2, 3 percent. He would be howled down in the House of Commons.”

Euronews correspondent James Franey said that David Cameron will into negotiations “with both hands tied behind his back.”

“Veto the budget and he’ll alienate his European allies. And MPs are unlikely to accept his proposed freeze.”

Our correspondent said there is an even bigger danger that “Tory infighting over the EU could cost Cameron his job.” Previous spats over Europe toppled the previous two Conservative prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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