UK should stay in EU, says Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron today said he would not support a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

It was revealed today that MPs are set to vote on a referendum within the next few months, after a petition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted calling for the public to be given the chance to decide whether Britain should stay in the EU.



Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party in Manchester, Mr Cameron said he did not believe the UK should quit the EU.



And he played down the prospect of the Government repatriating powers from Brussels in the near future.



The Government's immediate priority on Europe is to get the crisis in the eurozone sorted out and revive the continent's economy, he said.



The Commons Backbench Business Committee is expected to set a date before Christmas for a one-day debate in the House of Commons on a referendum on EU membership. The vote will not be binding on the Government, but if MPs back a referendum, it will put massive pressure on Mr Cameron to put the issue to the country.



The committee's Labour chairman Natascha Engel told the Mail on Sunday: "Given the crisis in the eurozone, this issue has become more relevant than ever. There is a clear majority of backbench MPs who want to debate this and we have to respond to that.



"The EU today is completely different from the one the British people voted to join in 1975. It is time to examine the position again.



"For years it has suited successive governments to avoid debating whether Britain should leave the EU. The whole purpose of my committee is to make sure the big issues of the day are aired in Parliament. People in pubs and shops all over Britain are discussing our membership of the EU and it is time MPs openly debated it too."



But Mr Cameron told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "It's not our view that there should be an in/out referendum. I don't want Britain to leave the EU. I think it's the wrong answer for Britain.



"What most people want in this country is not actually to leave the EU, but to reform the EU and make sure that the balance of powers between a country like Britain and Europe is better."



Mr Cameron said that he wanted to use future treaties to negotiate the return of powers from Brussels to Westminster.



But he said that this was an ambition "for the longer term" and there was no immediate prospect of treaty changes to make it possible. It did not form part of the current renegotiation of treaties which will keep Britain out of the eurozone bail-out mechanism, he said.







Mr Cameron left no doubt that he believes the collapse of the European single currency would be highly damaging for Britain.



"Right now, the eurozone is a threat not just to itself but a threat to the British economy and a threat to the worldwide economy, so we have to deal with this," he told the Marr Show.



The break-up of the single currency would be "very bad" for the UK, even though it is not a member of the euro and will not join under his leadership, said the Prime Minister.



"If bad things happen in the eurozone, that affects us," he said. "We can't insure ourselves from the fact that the German and French economies - the two biggest economies in Europe - have stalled. That's a real problem for us.



"I will always defend the British national interest. I think our interest is to be in the EU, because we need that single market. We are a trading nation, it is vital for our economic future.



"But I have always made clear my view that we have given too many powers to Europe and there are some powers I would like back from Europe and there may be future opportunities to bring that about."



Mr Cameron indicated that he was not planning to use the current crisis in Europe to seek a renegotiation of the terms of Britain's membership.



"I have been very clear that I think we have given too many powers to Europe. There are some powers I would like to get back. Any future treaty change would be an opportunity to do that, but right now that is not on the immediate agenda," he said.



And he added: "The eurozone issue is the urgent priority. That is what needs to be dealt with.



"There is a European treaty right now which gets us out of the bailout mechanism that Labour got us into. The prospect for further future treaties is not an immediate prospect.



"What we have got to do is make sure we sort out the eurozone issue in a way that protects British interests for the longer term."



The logic of the single currency means that the 17 members of the eurozone will probably have to move to closer co-ordination of their fiscal policies, said Mr Cameron. But he made clear that this should not be allowed to delay the more urgent action needed to stave off the sovereign debt crisis.



"Action needs to be taken in the next coming weeks to strengthen Europe's banks, to build the defences that the eurozone needs and deal with the problem of debt decisively," he said.



"They have got to do that now and get ahead of the markets now, irrespective of the changes the eurozone might choose to make in the future about having more economic co-operation, which I suspect they will need."



And he added: "The Government's priority right now is to sort out the eurozone, get the European economies growing again.



"Let's get the single market working properly, because there are huge things we could do in Europe to help promote growth in Britain - get the single market in energy, finish the single market in services, open up European markets, make sure that we stop the costs that are being piled onto British business through the EU. Let's stop all of that."



He said: "I'm not a pessimist on Europe, but I do think we can do better."







Foreign Secretary William Hague said that a referendum on EU membership would not be "sensible" at a time of economic crisis.



Asked about how the Government would approach any Commons debate on a referendum, Mr Hague told Sky News's Murnaghan programme: "Of course we will look at any motion, but we won't be in favour of holding now an in/out referendum on Europe.



"At a time of economic difficulty to actually say to people, instead of getting everything growing in our economy, we are going to spend our time on an in/out referendum which will create uncertainty for businesses in Britain - that wouldn't be a very sensible course of action."



Mr Hague denied that the Conservatives were split on the issue of Europe: "I have meetings with many Conservative backbenchers and I think we are very closely aligned - the party leadership, the Government and the great mass of the Conservative Party - on this."



The Conservative leadership remained keen to repatriate powers from Brussels, but was "constrained" by the fact that they are in coalition with Liberal Democrats, he said.



"This is a party that is committed to the return of powers from the EU to the UK," said Mr Hague. "We are constrained by being in a coalition on that subject, but that is something that I still believe in."



He added: "It may well be one of the dividing lines in the general election."

PA

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
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

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments