No in-or-out EU referendum, says David Cameron

David Cameron risked fuelling eurosceptic anger today by bluntly dismissing the prospect of an in-out referendum.







The Prime Minister said he was governing for the "whole country", and would not back a "false choice" between staying in the European Union or leaving.



However, he also appeared to confirm that a referendum will be held if the crisis in the eurozone leads to a new treaty.



The comments came in a round of broadcast interviews at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.



Right-wingers at the gathering have been demanding a popular vote on EU membership, saying the debt crisis in the single currency area reinforces their arguments.



But Mr Cameron said: "I don't think most people in the country want that choice between in or out.



"I think most people in the country recognise that our interest is to be in this organisation, fighting for a strong market for our goods and services.



"I'm going to have to be Prime Minister for the whole country.



"The point is, what people really want is not a choice between in or out, and the Europe we have now - that, frankly, I am not happy with - and the sort of relationship (where) we get something back for it.



"That is what we should be fighting for, rather than a sort false choice of in or out."



The premier said he was acting in "Britain's national interests" by encouraging the eurozone to integrate further to tackle its problems.



He stressed that non-single currency members would require "safeguards" to protect their interests as the necessary reforms were implemented.



Mr Cameron admitted that European leaders had not reacted decisively enough to deal with the Greek debt problems over the summer.



Asked if there had been a lack of urgency, he told ITV News: "I acknowledge that.



"Part of the problem is the Greek programme that was put in place, the milestones that they have to hit, people in the eurozone expected that to happen.



"That has not happened."



Quizzed on whether he expected the EU to negotiate a new treaty to facilitate closer eurozone integration, Mr Cameron said: "I think at some stage in the future, yes."



Pressed by Sky News whether that meant there would be a referendum, he went on: "Yes, at some stage in the future it is likely that there will be a treaty.



"But in the early stages of this will be the eurozone countries, I think, doing more together."



He added: "There might be a treaty later on and then all the issues about the referendum and everything else will come up.



"But I think let's not get ahead of ourselves."







Mr Cameron acknowledged that the UK's economic situation was worse than when the coalition came to power.



"Yes. I am not an economic forecaster, but if you look at the forecasts they are less good now than they were then," he said.



"But they are still forecasting growth. We must not talk ourselves down."



He went on: "Obviously we face a worldwide slowdown. The French economy has stalled, the German economy has stalled. Even the mighty America has issues."



The Prime Minister said it was crucial that the Government stick to its deficit reduction plans in order to keep interest rates down.



However, amid criticism from senior Tories and Labour of a lack of measures to boost growth, he highlighted measures to help people start and grow businesses.



Mr Cameron said freezing council tax again next year was a "important step" that would help families deal with the "tough" conditions.



And he defended funding for weekly bin collections, saying in a "civilised country" people wanted their "smelly food waste" removed more regularly.



He insisted the Government was able to commit more money without breaking its budgets because savings were being made, pointing out that the civil service headcount was at its lowest level since the Second World War.



"I hope people will look at the Government and say, at least the Government as well are cutting their own costs," he said.



Mr Cameron rejected the suggestion that he could not understand what people were going through as he had never experienced financial hardship.



"I think what matters in leadership is do you listen to people, do you understand their concerns?" he said.



He also reiterated his regret over incidents where he was accused of using patronising language to Labour MP Angela Eagle and Tory Nadine Dorries.



"I think in the House of Commons - this is not an excuse, it's just an explanation - sometimes it is very aggressive and confrontational," he said.



"Words came out of my mouth that should not have done and I needed to put that right."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue