David Cameron has been told by Conservative rebels to grab EU referendum negotiations by the scruff of the neck.
The former children’s minister, Tim Loughton, said leaving the reform plan to civil servants would end up with negotiations turning to mush. Loughton rebelled against Cameron in the vote on the EU referendum bill last week. He said:
Unless the negotiations are going to be led and overseen by a big hitter – the prime minister – we will get a mush. The civil service is not wired to negotiate the best possible deal.
He criticised the review of how EU laws impact the UK in the last parliament as a damp squib, saying “civil servants go for the lowest common denominator”.
The UK is due to embark on a series of talks after this week’s European summit. This Thursday and Friday Cameron will present outlines of reform plans to leaders of the 28 EU nations.