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UK Politics

Cameron to deliver jinxed Europe speech


David Cameron will this week finally deliver his long-delayed speech promising a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

After months of preparation, he had been due to travel to the Netherlands on Friday to spell out his plans. But the Prime Minister was forced to postpone it the night before as the gravity of the Algerian hostage crisis became apparent.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said today Mr Cameron would make the speech this week.

An announcement on the timing is due tomorrow. It is most likely to take place on Wednesday, ahead of Mr Cameron’s appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Prime Minister will warn Britain could “drift towards the exit” unless there is real change in Brussels. He will say the next Tory manifesto will pledge to negotiate a new deal for Britain in the EU and to put it to voters in about five years’ time.

Mr Hague said there was a strong case for seeking “fresh consent” from voters for Britain’s role within the bloc.

The Eurosceptic former minister Liam Fox said he was “broadly satisfied” with the speech, but stressed there should eventually be a referendum on whether Britain should quit the EU altogether.

Meanwhlie the US ambassador to London, Louis Susman, has reiterated his Government’s opposition to British withdrawal. He said: “We cannot imagine a strong EU without a vibrant partner in the UK.”