'Britain would not collapse outside EU': David Cameron holds out prospect of referendum
Prime Minister rejects criticism from German politicians that he was trying to 'blackmai' the rest of the EU
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 14 January 2013
David Cameron today rebuffed demands by Conservative MPs for a referendum on Europe before the 2015 general election, telling them they would have to wait until the next parliament.
The Prime Minister sought to end the confusion over his stance on Europe ahead of a much-anticipated speech he is due to make on the issue next week. In media interviews, he insisted he had nothing to fear from a referendum but made clear it would not take place until he had negotiated a “new settlement” between Britain and the EU. Some Tory MPs, including the former Europe Minister David Davis, have called for an early referendum to endorse the Government’s demands for a new deal, to be followed later by another public vote on the result of its negotiations with its EU partners.
Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that an immediate “in or out” vote would be a “false choice”. He added: “Right now, I think there are a lot of people who say ‘well, I would like to be in Europe, but I’m not happy with every aspect of the relationship, so I want it changed’ – that is my view.”
Although Britain would not “collapse” if it left the EU, he insisted that he wanted it to remain a member because it was in the country’s interests to stay in the single market. “I’m also optimistic and confident that we can achieve changes in the European Union to make sure that Britain feels more comfortable with our relationship with Europe – I’m confident we can do that,” he said.
The Prime Minister rejected criticism from German politicians that he was trying to “blackmail” the rest of the EU by threatening to leave if British demands for a return of powers to London were not met. He denied being isolated on that, saying Germany and the Netherlands had made similar proposals.
Mr Cameron said: “I’m not blackmailing anybody. Britain, just like every other European country, has a perfect right to say ‘we are members of this club, we are prominent members, we pay a large bill for being a member of this club; we’re perfectly entitled to argue it needs to change’.
“This is not just about Britain’s relationship with Europe, this is also about the whole way Europe needs to change in order to deal with the global race and the competition from the south and the east and the fact that Europe’s economies are too bureaucratic, too sclerotic. We need to change that, and that’s an argument that I think will have great strength across Europe.”
Labour has warned that Mr Cameron could put the UK on a “slippery slope towards the EU exit door” if the new membership terms were rejected in a referendum. Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said the Prime Minister’s interviews raised more questions than they answered. “He's not in control of the agenda or even his party. The gap between his back benchers and our EU partners remains unbridgeable,” he said.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...