'Pathetically limited': North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson criticises Cameron on EU reform
Former Cabinet member Owen Paterson has criticised the Government's "pathetically limited ambitions" for reforming Britain's relationship with the European Union.
The North Shropshire MP and former Environment Secretary said Prime Minister David Cameron was "squandering" his chance of getting real change.
Tomorrow the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will deliver a ruling that could force Britain to give prisoners the right to vote in European elections.
Mr Cameron has publicly opposed any such move, but his critics accuse him of being too much of a European supporter to ever really oppose EU laws being imposed on Britain.
Mr Paterson, a vice-president of Conservatives for Britain, said: "The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that he does not want prisoners voting but if it is imposed on us by the ECJ it is a very graphic example that at the moment we do not make our own laws."
He added: "What's so sickening is that he is fluffing a glorious opportunity to get the powers to make our own laws back.
"It is being squandered because we've got such pathetically limited ambitions."
The issue of Europe is expected to dominate this week's Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.
But Mr Cameron acknowledged that he cannot "guarantee" that his current renegotiation of the UK's relationship with the EU will deliver a deal allowing him to campaign for continued membership in the referendum due by the end of 2017.
He made it clear that he does not rule out campaigning for Brexit if he does not get the deal he wants on issues such as restricting benefits for EU migrants, securing control over Britain's borders and giving national parliaments more power in Brussels.
And he accepted that some Tory eurosceptics – including Mr Paterson – will want the UK to quit the EU regardless of how good a deal he negotiates.
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