British PM vows to win EU concessions

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Prime Minister David Cameron vowed Wednesday to win concessions for Britain in crunch talks this week over a new European Union treaty to save the euro.

"The more that countries in the eurozone ask for, the more we will ask for in return," Cameron told parliament in a weekly question and answer session.

Asked by one MP if he would show "bulldog spirit" -- the animal is a common symbol of British resolve -- he said that was "exactly" what he planned to do at the summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

He also repeated his threat to veto any treaty change by the 27-member EU if Britain does not get "safeguards", particularly for the City of London financial services hub.

Britain is one of 10 EU countries that does not use the euro currency.

Cameron faces pressure at home to win concessions from Europe in exchange for backing French and German plans for a new treaty aimed at ending the eurozone's sprialling debt crisis.

But he also faced calls from within his own Conservative Party and his Cabinet on Wednesday to hold a referendum on any treaty change, a move he opposes.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, seen as a potential future rival for Cameron's job, said that if Britain was asked to sign up to treaty change, "if we felt unable to veto it, then certainly it should be put to a referendum."

Separately, Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson suggested that a referendum would be an "inevitable" result of proposals for closer fiscal union in the eurozone.

Cameron's centre-right Conservatives lead a coalition government with the europhile, centrist Liberal Democrats but he has faced problems with a strong eurosceptic right wing within his own party.

© 2011 AFP

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