LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron may fail to stop Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming European Commission president but Britain will be able renegotiate a new settlement with the European Union, former Prime Minister John Major has said.
Cameron, who wants to renegotiate Britain’s ties with the EU and hold an in-out referendum on membership by the end of 2017, has publicly opposed Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg.
Some other European leaders privately share Cameron’s reservations about appointing Juncker but Cameron has risked irritating German Chancellor Angela Merkel with his implacable opposition to Junker.
“I do not think he is the right candidate but it is conceivable, for the wrong reasons, that Europe might elect the wrong candidate,” Major, who served as a Conservative prime minister from 1990 to 1997, told the BBC in an interview aired on Wednesday.
“If that is so, the way Europe often works is if it has done something that is very much not to the interests of a particular country they often seek both subliminally and publicly to make that right in some another way.”
Major said he thought Cameron would be able to secure a new settlement with the European Union and that British voters would then vote to stay in the European Union.
“The question is: Can we get a satisfactory negotiation along the lines that Britain has been talking about and my answer to that is categorically ‘Yes’.”
Disagreements over Britain’s relations with Europe helped bring down Major’s predecessor Margaret Thatcher in 1990, and convulsed the Conservatives throughout Major’s time in office when he faced repeated rebellions by Eurosceptic party members.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden