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23.01.13

Cameron pledges ‘in out’ EU referendum

Prime Minister David Cameron has made his long-awaited speech on the future of the UK within the EU, and has pledged an in/out referendum if the Conservatives win the next election.

The referendum would be held after he has worked to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU, by the end of 2017 at the latest.

Cameron gave no specific detail on the powers that the UK should take back from the EU, but stated that a less bureaucratic union would be essential. He said: “We must not be weighed down by an insistence on a one-size-fits-all approach which implies that all countries want the same level of integration. The fact is that they don’t and we shouldn’t assert that they do.”

The Prime Minister has been under pressure from his party to announce a referendum.

Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.

“I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.

“And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in-or-out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in/out referendum.”

Cameron clarified that if he secured a new relationship that he was happy with, he would campaign “heart and soul” to stay in the EU.  

“I want the European Union to be a success. And I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it.”

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: “We understand the need for change but I don't honestly believe the best way to get change in a club of 27 is to stand at the exit door demanding change or threatening to leave.”

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell added: “The Prime Minister's efforts to reconcile his own position with that of his eurosceptic backbenchers leads logically to the position that if he could not get what he wanted out of Europe, he would be willing for the UK to leave. This will hardly commend his approach to those in the EU whose co-operation he requires.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images 

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