Cameron postpones EU speech

British prime minister calls off speech to deal with hostage crisis in Algeria.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has postponed a speech on the UK’s relationship with the EU that he was to give today in the Netherlands.

Cameron’s office announced last night (17 January) that he will instead stay in London to deal with a hostage crisis in Algeria. Dozens of foreign workers have been taken hostage by Islamist militants at a natural gas plant in the Sahara desert, some of whom are believed to be British.

Yesterday, Algeria launched a military assault on the plant in which many of the hostages were killed. Algerian state media is reporting that two British citizens were among those killed.

Downing Street said that the speech had only been postponed and a new date and venue would be released in due course.

Excerpts from the speech had been given to some media organisations. Cameron had been due to say that Britain would drift out of the EU unless changes were made to the relationship between the two sides.

Cameron was to criticise a lack of democratic accountability in the EU and say that the Union is drifting further away from its citizens. The extracts contained no mention of a possible ‘in-out’ referendum on Britain’s membership.

Business leaders had warned that a scheduled referendum could cause economic uncertainty in the UK. Foreign governments, including the administration of US President Barack Obama, said a British exit from the EU would risk isolating the UK in the world. Obama reiterated these concerns during a phone call with Cameron yesterday, according to the White House.

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