'Merkozy' tax piles pressure on PM

The man who once told his party to stop obsessing about Europe is now having to do just that.

The EU summit which starts tomorrow could determine not just the fate of the British economy but of a Coalition which is deeply divided on this issue.

Today one MP after another leapt to their feet to ask the prime minister what he would do to see off what they see as the threat of further EU integration - a threat made all the more real by the letter written by the couple now known simply as "Merkozy".

The proposals of Germany's Chancellor Merkel and France's President Sarkozy - for a Euro tax on financial transactions, a common approach to company taxes, and common employment rules - are precisely the sort of agenda so loathed by so many British Conservatives.

Many now want their leader to take advantage of what they see as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine Britain's entire relationship with the EU.

Many - led by that man again - Boris Johnson - are demanding a referendum as the means to ensure that the prime minister cannot be led astray by what they see as the pro-European Whitehall establishment and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

Over the next two days, David Cameron will endeavour to help stabilise the euro whilst trying to protect what he sees as British interests and simultaneously attempting to ensure that the politics of Europe doesn't defeat him as it has so many previous prime ministers.

As if all that were not enough, he knows that whatever's agreed at the EU summit will have to go to a Commons vote. The last vote on Europe produced the biggest rebellion on the subject in the post-War era.

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