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Cameron denies 'blackmailing' EU

By Ian Wishart  -  14.01.2013 / 16:21 CET
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 choice.

“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 revealed.

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”.
© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.
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