By Paul Goodman
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A group of senior Ministers including Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson sought to meet the Prime Minister during the run-up to today's Brussels summit to urge him to harden his stance on the repatriation of powers.

The group features Chris Grayling, the Employment Minister in Duncan Smith's Work and Pensions Department; Gerald Howarth, the Defence Minister and former Chairman of the 92 Group, and Theresa Villiers, the Transport Minister.

Senior sources say that no meeting took place before the Prime Minister prepared to leave for the summit, but that one is very likely to take place after it returns.  A list of Ministers has been prepared for members of the group to approach.

Paterson said today in an interview with the Spectator's James Forsyth that "down the road" a referendum is "inevitable".  Duncan Smith and Paterson met with the Prime Minister in October after the record Conservative Commons revolt on Europe over a referendum.

Grayling told the Daily Telegraph in November that he was sympathetic to the calls from dozens of back-bench Conservative MPs for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership and that the “renegotiation” of the relationship was now the minimum requirement.

A source told me: "Although we didn't see the Prime Minister during the preparations before the summit our views have been communicated to Downing Street."