Richard Messingham reflects on prime minister David Cameron's negotiations over the UK's membership of the EU.
After an extremely busy parliamentary session following the party conferences in September and October, the House of Commons is now in recess and the House of Lords will rise on Tuesday 22 December. The House of Commons will return on Tuesday 5 January 2016 and the House of Lords returns on Monday 11 January 2016.
The EU continued to dominate the prime minister's time - he spent today and yesterday in talks with fellow EU leaders in an effort to agree on terms to the UK's membership of the EU. Cameron is demanding change in four areas, including protection of the single market for Britain; exemption for Britain from Europe's "ever-closer union"; a deadline for the reduction of the "burden" of EU red tape; and restrictions on EU migrants' access to in-work benefits in the UK.
Cameron declared that a "pathway to progress" had emerged during his negotiations with Britain's European partners as he attempts to reach a new settlement with the European Union. He reportedly said that negotiations were tough, but stressed that his demand for a four-year ban on EU migrants receiving UK in-work benefit was not off the negotiating table.
However, other EU leaders have suggested that he appeared to backtrack, as he accepted that he could not discriminate against citizens other EU member states. Nevertheless, it appears that the prime minister could be encouraged by comments by Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, in which she suggested that it may be possible to accept a principle of treaty change.