The Straits Times
Published on Nov 20, 2012

UK PM Cameron in showdown over EU budget


LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron heads to Brussels this week for a dramatic showdown over the European Union budget that has major implications for his political fate at home.

Mr Cameron's promise to veto anything less than a freeze in the budget has left him treading a tightrope between an increasingly eurosceptic Britain and his angry counterparts in Europe.

The Conservative leader will gain badly needed domestic political capital ahead of elections in 2015 if he takes a stand like his predecessor Mrs Margaret "Iron Lady" Thatcher did in the 1980s.

Conservative rebels voted with the Labour opposition last month to inflict a humiliating defeat on Mr Cameron in a non-binding parliamentary vote calling for him to insist on a cut in the budget. But he risks fatally weakening Britain's influence in the EU - his country's biggest trading partner - if he blocks a deal on the trillion-euro budget as he has threatened.