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David Cameron speech: UK and the EU
5 years ago

David Cameron speech: UK and the EU

David Cameron has rebuffed criticism at home and abroad of his commitment to hold a referendum on the UK's future in Europe if he wins the next election.

Labour and the Lib Dems have said plans to renegotiate the UK's membership and put it to a public vote is a gamble and against the national interest.

France and Germany have warned the UK against "cherry-picking" powers and pursuing an "a la carte" approach.

But the prime minister said he believed his stance was backed by the public.

And he said Labour's arguments were "fatally undermined" by confusion over their own position.

Mr Cameron's promise to give the British people "their say" on Europe - in the form of an in/out referendum to be held before 2018 - has been welcomed by most Conservative MPs and eurosceptics in other parties.

MPs will get the opportunity to debate the plan in the House of Commons next Wednesday.

At the next election - expected in 2015 - the Conservative leader said his party would offer people a "simple choice" between staying in the EU under new terms, or leaving the 27-member union altogether.


He said the issue of the UK's future in Europe would not "go away" and now was the right time to confront it when the EU was set to go through a period of profound change amid calls for further integration.

In a long-awaited speech, Mr Cameron said the referendum would be a decision on the UK's "destiny" and, if he secured a new relationship he was happy with, he would campaign "heart and soul" to stay within the EU.

While he believed the UK could survive outside the EU, he said withdrawal would be a "one-way ticket" and he appealed for "cool heads" in the debate to come.

The prime minister rejected suggestions that a new relationship was "impossible to achieve" and dismissed calls for the referendum to be held sooner, saying such a "momentous decision" must wait until the UK's relationship with the EU "had been put right".

"Our approach is what the British people want. It is right for business, right for the economy and we will fight for it in the years ahead."

However, Mr Cameron did not spell out what powers he would like to see the UK take back as part of a new settlement or what would happen if the negotiations did not go his way.

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5 years ago
'Wriggle room'

The Conservative leader has been under pressure from many of his MPs to give a binding commitment to a vote on Europe.

But Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC that Mr Cameron's message was not "confined or directed" to his backbenchers or those voters attracted by the UK Independence Party's call for EU withdrawal and should resonate across Europe

"It is not the Conservative Party he is speaking to. It is the British public and the European public."

Conservative MPs who want a looser relationship with the EU welcomed Mr Cameron's promise and said it had united the party.

One MP, Mark Reckless, even suggested Mr Cameron had left his own position in a referendum "up for grabs" and had the "wriggle room" to campaign for an exit if he believed this was the only option left for Britain.

Labour said Mr Cameron was "going to put Britain through years of uncertainty, and take a huge gamble with our economy".

But their leader Ed Miliband came under pressure himself after he appeared to go further than he has done before and told MPs that he opposed the idea of an in/out referendum.

The opposition have previously declined to rule out a referendum in the future while arguing that now is not the right time for one, but party sources insisted their position had not changed.


Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who is also deputy prime minister, said there was a "right place and right time" for a referendum.

But he added: "My view is that years and years of uncertainty because of a protracted, ill-defined renegotiation of our place in Europe is not in the national interest because it hits growth and jobs."

The UK Independence Party said the "genie was out of the bottle" about a possible exit from the EU but acknowledged that winning a referendum on a platform for withdrawal would not be easy.

Conservatives have said their reform message is likely to win favour with European allies such as Sweden and the Netherlands.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would listen to British "wishes" but her foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said "cherry picking is not an option" before adding that Europe needed more, not less, integration.

And French foreign minister Laurent Fabius warned: "You can't do Europe a la carte... to take an example which our British friends will understand - imagine Europe is a football club and you join, once you're in it you can't say 'Let's play rugby'".

In response, No 10 said the British public would have the final say.

This post was modified from its original form on 23 Jan, 10:12
5 years ago

Yeah, you can. It would mean you don't want to play that game anymore.

US alarm bells over Cameron's EU speech
5 years ago
US alarm bells over Cameron's EU speech
David Cameron speaking in London. 23 Jan 2013Washington fears Mr Cameron will fail to sell a deal that keeps Britain in the EU

The Obama administration has made no bones about it - it wants a strong Britain within a strong Europe.

The President's press secretary, Jay Carney, has said that he welcomed the Prime Minister's call for Britain to remain in the European Union, adding that the US believed the UK was stronger for being in the EU, and the EU was stronger for having the UK as a member.

In the modern version of the special relationship, what Carney called the essential relationship, Britain is valued as an ally precisely because it is one of the leaders of the biggest economy in the world.

Some in Washington think Mr Cameron's speech threatens that role and introduce more unnecessary uncertainty to an already uncertain world.

Until recently, the promise of a referendum from Mr Cameron was seen in Washington as just another phase in the rocky relationship between the UK and continental Europeans.

But now alarm bells are ringing. The White House doesn't care about the EU's internal organisation, and Europe is hardly its biggest concern anyway, but Mr Cameron's promise is definitely an unwanted irritation.

Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs Phil Gordon has been unusually blunt. He is publicly saying that referendums could turn countries inwards.

"We have a growing relationship with the EU as an institution, which has an increasing voice in the world, and we want to see a strong British voice in that EU. That is in America's interests. We welcome an outward-looking EU with Britain in it," he said.

President Obama repeated this view in a phone call to Mr Cameron.

The Americans are worried for several reasons.

They fear the debate that will rage for the next few years will undermine Britain's voice in the EU and diminish its power.

Indeed, insiders say that has already happened - they find other EU members aren't taking Britain seriously.

Free-trade agreement?

While US officials would agree with Mr Cameron's push for a more competitive, less rule-bound Europe, they fear he will now be less able to achieve it.

There is internal politics too. There is an argument inside the administration over whether or not to seek a free-trade agreement with the EU.

Those who want to go ahead may fear their position has been undermined.

They may feel that Mr Cameron has given ammunition to those who argue it is not worth the bother. Some suggest it would be an irony if such a deal was negotiated - and Britain found itself outside the new free-trade area.

Although the prime minister clearly intends to sell a deal that keeps Britain inside the EU there are fears that he will fail.

The Obama administration values the European Union as an ally that largely shares its vision, and acts with it in the Middle East, over Iran and North Africa.

Officials will fret over the next few years that Britain really could leave and that would badly weaken the EU.

At the risk of hurting British egos, they simply don't see Britain - especially with a declining defence budget - as anything more than a medium-sized power in its own right.

As one insider put it to me: "At the moment Britain is a leader in the biggest economy in the world - what's the strategy for being out? Just trail around behind us.

Mark Mardell

This post was modified from its original form on 23 Jan, 13:14
5 years ago

Sherry, what this means is Cameron is looking after the best interest of Britain, unlike Obama who is destroying America, Cameron will work in the most possible way for the UK, this what we elected him for, the Jobless figures are down, claimants for Job-seekers Benefit is down, the UK is now going in the right direction.

I am pleased he disregarded Obama calls for not to hold a Referendum, this would not be in the best interest for the UK, I would accept however, Obama maybe correct when he says, that it would not be in the interest of the US if the UK withdraw from the EU, however we cannot and such not accept the EU how it stands at the moment,

further to this, Cameron wants to sort out the Immigration in the UK, I understand this is Obama policy also, however, the way Cameron would sort it out, is very much different than Obama, Obama would more than like set America Immigration Policy

as a free for all to come in from around the world.

Today’s  move by Cameron is one of the best moves he has made, he sown the seeds for the next UK Election, had Cameron had not had Clegg and the other Lib-Dems in Government, I think Cameron would have gone for a Referendum before the next Election, but that is only my opinion.

Cameron does not want to leave the EU, just want a better deal for the UK, protecting the UK interest in the EU, and leave the British Public to decide if the UK is In or Out of the EU,  this is the difference with Obama who is destroying America and not giving the American Public a say in their own Country which is totally un-democratic and wrong.

5 years ago

Right. Cameron needs to tell Obama to shut his flying trap. Really.  Obama thinks everyone should listen to and do anything he wants, or else. He likes feeling like he has the upper hand, like he's more important than anyone else, like he's the man.  

Obama has had a free for all in a sense. And yes I believe he sure would.  There were muslims, evidence found, they could fit in easily too, coming across the borders with the illegals.  It is not like our gov't. did not know this for heaven's sake. He knew. He was getting a 2 fer- allowing them to cross the borders, further destroying us by more ways than one,  and getting their votes. Maybe I should say 3 fer.  We have terrorist sleeper cells in our country.  I have no doubt some crossed the borders,  to join their friends. Obama has appointed muslims to office with ties back to radical muslims. Hillary's aide is no different. This  dem administration is crooked as hell. Obama thinks Islam is the one of the best things since buttered bread. I don't know if you ever heard him when he went gaga IMO praising muslims, and he doesn't like anyone saying anything negative about them. He sure would give a free for all, and all purposefully for the wrong reasons, as he has already done. He is out to destroy us.   I like the way the Dutch are handling it now.

Well, grandkids left a little bit ago, so going to relax and watch some tv before bed.

Good night Ray, and anyone else who may come in.   Have a good evening!

5 years ago

Good Night Sherry! Enjoy the evening!! You are ight on everything you said!

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would listen to British "wishes" but her foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said "cherry picking is not an option" before adding that Europe needed more, not less, integration.

What part of Muslims do they not understand that will NEVER integrate!! These people are the main reason why so much division is going on everywhere...can't they see this!? I have to say that if Jay Carney agrees with what's going on that does not give me a good feeling about what Obama has up his sleeve!! Any time they agree with something you can bet there is trouble on the horizon!! I hope this works for you guys Ray!! I would think that for the UK to bow out of the EU would be a good thing by not having to bow down to any other countries except the UK!

5 years ago

Blarney Carney is Obama's messenger pigeon.

5 years ago

Who is this Guido Westerwelle. I see foreign minister, but what type of person is he? Saying they need more integration??? Uh uh.

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