David Cameron pledges referendum on EU even if attempts to reform Brussels’ power fails

Conservative leader says he won’t become Prime Minister unless he can guarantee in/out referendum

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David Cameron has given a “cast-iron” guarantee that there will be a referendum on the European Union held in 2017 if he becomes Prime Minister, whether or not he has managed to negotiate reforms to Brussels’ power.

The Prime Minister said the “most important” reform he wanted to secure was getting Britain out of a clause that binds it being committed to an ever-closer union.

Mr Cameron said he also wants to renegotiate powers over boarder control, to crack down on benefit tourism, to secure more trade and to have greater control over justice and home affairs.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Mr Cameron said he would give a cast-iron guarantee that a referendum on the UK’s membership with the European Union would be held in 2017.

Mr Cameron said: “People should be in no doubt that I will not become Prime Minister unless I can guarantee that we will hold that referendum.”

“There are changes we can make to this organisation to improve it, and improve our membership of it,” he said, adding that the referendum will go ahead whether or not he has successfully negotiated his proposed changes to the UK’s membership of the EU.

Mr Cameron said he believed that he will be successful in pushing his reforms through for “a couple of very good reasons,” stating: “First of all, others in Europe need change to the European Union, the Eurozone, the Euro currency needs change because it needs a banking union, it needs more fiscal union, so we are perfectly legitimate to ask for our changes.”

Responding to the question of whether voting for Ukip was a logical way of keeping up pressure on EU reform, Mr Cameron disagreed, and said: “What we need in Europe is a strong Conservative Prime Minister, backed by a team of strong Conservative MEPs that will then be taken seriously by our European partners.

“The problem with sending Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs is that they don’t want any change.

“The problem with sending Ukip MEPs is that they often don’t turn up, they then vote the wrong way on things like the budget, and they are not taken seriously by the other countries and the European Commission.”

Additional reporting by the Press Association.