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Published: Sunday June 22, 2014 MYT 10:45:02 PM
Updated: Sunday June 22, 2014 MYT 10:46:15 PM

Poland's Sikorski says UK's Cameron gave up chance for say on Juncker

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron's has his own past decisions to blame for his lack of influence over the appointment of the next European Commision president, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Sunday.

Cameron is looking increasingly isolated in his battle to prevent the top job going to former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the favoured candidate of the European People's Party (EPP), which emerged as the largest political group in the European Parliament after elections last month.

The British leader, who believes Juncker is too federalist and will prevent Europe from achieving much-needed reform, pulled his Conservative party out of the EPP in 2009.

"If the Tories (Conservatives) were part of the European People's Party he could have made that argument ... when EPP chose its candidate and he may well have prevailed, but EPP made its choice," Sikorski told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

"The rules of democracy are that the largest party gets the top job."

A British official said this week that Cameron could force a vote on the issue at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Friday if they attempt to push through the selection of Juncker.

That looked increasingly likely after a meeting of left-wing European leaders, including Italy's Matteo Renzi whom Cameron had hoped to secure as an ally, agreed on Saturday to back Juncker for the post.

'BLOODY NOSE'

Conservative lawmaker and former British defence minister Liam Fox on Sunday backed Cameron's pledge to "fight to the end" over Juncker's position, saying it was important to have made his opposition clear even if he faces an embarrassing defeat.

"You may not win the battle but it is so much better to see a prime minister willing to fight a battle and take a bloody nose than not fight at all, because not to simply gets us on the juggernaut route to ever closer union," Fox told the BBC.

Cameron has promised to try to reshape Britain's EU ties if re-elected next year before giving Britons an in/out EU membership referendum in 2017. But Sikorski said Juncker's appointment would not prevent this renegotiation.

"Britain can gain a lot of support and allies on the continent for sensible British proposals to allow nation states the decision making power," he said.

While he said he had no problem with Britain making its welfare system less generous, he dismissed the idea of "welfare tourism", an issue Cameron has vowed to tackle by restricting the access of unemployed EU nationals to Britain's welfare and social security systems.

"Welfare tourism is a figment of some politician's imagination," Sikorski said, adding Poles in Britain contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

(Editing by Sophie Hares)

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