British prime minister wants referendum on the UK's relationship with the rest of the EU, but only after he has won back some powers.
David Cameron, the prime minister of the UK, today (14
January) gave his strongest indication yet that he would call a referendum on
the UK's relationship with the rest of the European Union.
Cameron, speaking to BBC radio, said that he wanted the UK
to have a “fresh settlement” with the EU and added that he was “confident and
optimistic” that he would be able to renegotiate with other member states the
powers that the UK devolves to the EU.
However he said that he believed that it was in the UK's interests to remain
a member of the EU and that any referendum would be on the terms of a new relationship.
“When we make those changes for a new settlement we should make sure there
is full consent for that settlement,” he said. “The principle is that if you
are fundamentally changing the relationship between Britain and Europe you
should be having a referendum.”
He added: “If we had an in-out referendum tomorrow, or very shortly, I don't
think that would be the right answer because we would be giving people a false
“I think the overwhelming majority of the British people say they want to be
in Europe but they want some changes to that relationship and they would like
to be given a say.”
Cameron said that he was “confident” that the UK would “get the changes that
we want”. He added: “The British public feel increasingly fed up with being left
out of this debate.”
The British prime minister is expected to make a speech on his vision for
the UK's future relationship with the rest of the EU and his plans for a
referendum later this month. The prime minister said today that the speech was
“written and ready to go” although a date for its delivery has not been
Cameron confirmed that he was prepared to veto measures that eurozone member
states want take to bolster the single currency in order to get his way, but he
denied that this amounted to “blackmailing”.
Mr Cameron said he wanted the UK to remain within the EU but that the
country would not “collapse” if it left.
“I've always been very clear that it's in our national interest as a trading
nation to be in the single market,” he added.
Cameron spoke to Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, and
Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany – both seen as having at least some understanding
of some of Cameron's views – at the weekend and he is expected to hold talks
with other EU leaders before making his speech.
Over the weekend Cameron came under pressure from members of his own party
over his approach to the EU.
Some MPs in his Conservative party are known to favour the UK's withdrawal
from the EU altogether while others, including the former finance minister
Kenneth Clarke, this weekend signalled their intention to make a more vocal
case for the UK's active participation.
Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition centre-left Labour party, warned that
Cameron was risking “sleep-walking out of Europe”.
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