Cameron EU referendum move 'jam tomorrow'

 

David Cameron today failed to satisfy Conservative demands for a referendum on the European Union after declaring that he was prepared to consider the idea - but not yet.

The Prime Minister was accused of offering “jam tomorrow” with his offer to go to the people once Britain's future relationship with Brussels, in the aftermath of the eurozone crisis and further EU integration, becomes clear.

He insisted that an immediate in/out referendum was not what the public wanted.

But, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron acknowledged the need to ensure the UK's position within an evolving EU has “the full-hearted support of the British people”.

He stressed there would be further opportunities in the coming months and years to win back powers from Brussels and that he wanted to be able to offer voters a “real choice” in any potential referendum.

He said he wanted to scrap “whole swathes” of legislation on social issues, working time and home affairs.

“As we get closer to the end point we will need to consider how best to get the full-hearted support of the British people, whether it is in a general election or a referendum,” he said.

“As I have said, for me the two words 'Europe' and 'referendum' can go together, particularly if we really are proposing a change in how our country is governed, but let us get the people a real choice first.”

He is expected to set out more detail about the possibility of a referendum in the autumn.

Influential eurosceptic backbencher Mark Pritchard said Tory grassroots were “fed up of aluminium guarantees” and insisted there should be a referendum during the current parliament.

“Once again, when it comes to Europe, it's always jam tomorrow. But tomorrow may never come,” he said.

Nearly 100 Conservative MPs wrote to Mr Cameron recently urging him to make a legal commitment to hold a poll on the UK's relationship with the EU during the next parliament.

Tory MP John Baron, who organised the letter, told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: “I welcome the fact he is now talking about a referendum, but you will notice he hasn't promised one and that he is justifying that position by suggesting now is not a good time for an in-out referendum.

“That's not what we have called for in our letter. We have simply called for a commitment to be put on the statute book in this parliament for a referendum in the next parliament.”

Conservative eurosceptic and former Cabinet minister John Redwood said: “We would like to get on with it. We know already what powers we want to get back.

“We need to disengage from some of the power-grab that is now under way as they desperately try to buttress their currency.

“The deal Britain should offer them is we will not get in their way if they are determined to move to political union and to very expensive transfers to prop up the banks, but Britain wants to move in the opposite direction at the same time.”

Tomorrow, former defence secretary Liam Fox will appeal to his party's eurosceptic rank-and-file by saying that “life outside the EU holds no terror”.

In a speech, the Tory MP will say: “I would like to see Britain negotiate a new relationship on the basis that, if we achieved it and our future relationship was economic rather than political, we would advocate acceptance in a referendum of this new dynamic.

“If, on the other hand, others would not accede to our requests for a rebalancing in the light of the response to the euro crisis, then we would recommend rejection and potential departure from the EU.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague acknowledged that Mr Cameron's intervention today did not signal a change of policy.

But he said there would be a “very, very powerful” case for a referendum if Europe moved towards a more federal system, as expected in response to the eurozone crisis.

“What the Prime Minister is saying is that the time to decide on a referendum or a general election on our relationship with Europe is when we know how Europe is going to develop over the coming months and years to the eurozone crisis, and when we know whether we can get that better relationship,” he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

He suggested that the matter could be resolved at a general election rather than a referendum “if there is a clear division between the parties”.

The Liberal Democrats said Mr Cameron was speaking as Conservative leader, not for the coalition as a whole, and suggested he was responding to “internal divisions” in his party.

A spokesman said: “David Cameron has set out his views as Conservative Party leader about possible referenda following the 2015 elections, which he is perfectly entitled to do.

“However, the Liberal Democrats do not believe that there is much public appetite at the moment for an abstract discussion about a referendum on an undefined question at an unspecified time in a future parliament.”

Labour said Mr Cameron's positioning on a referendum was a “shambles” and revealed more about his “weakness” in managing his party than in his plans for a plebiscite.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), said Britain was no closer to getting a referendum on the EU and told Tory eurosceptics they were “in the wrong party”.

PA

Suggested Topics
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal