UK would do okay outside the European Union, David Cameron says

The PM is attempting to define the terms of debate around the upcoming referendum

Jon Stone
Monday 09 November 2015 13:09 GMT
David Cameron speaks at the CBI
David Cameron speaks at the CBI (EPA)

Britain could survive and “do okay” outside the European Union if it had to, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister told an audience at the Confederation of British Industry that the EU referendum debate was not about whether exit from the bloc was possible.

“Some people seem to say that really Britain couldn’t survive, couldn’t do okay outside the European Union. I don’t think that is true,” said.

“Let’s be frank, Britain is an amazing country. We’ve got the fifth biggest economy in the world. We’re a top ten manufacturer. We’ve got incredibly strong financial services. The world wants to come and do business here.

“Look at the record of inward investment. Look at the leaders beating the path to our door to come and see what’s happening with this great country’s economy. The argument isn’t whether Britain could survive outside the EU. Of course it could.”

The comments, an attempt to define the terms of the EU referendum debate by the PM, come as the Times newspaper reports the vote could be as few as eight months away.

Mr Cameron is said to be planning a referendum for June if the leaders of other countries agree to the bulk of his concessions.

The Conservative manifesto had pledged to hold the vote by the end of 2017, but Mr Cameron is reportedly keen to get the polarising discussion out of the way.

Other countries have sent mixed messages about whether they would agree to the UK’s demands on issues like freedom of movement and social security.

The PM told the CBI delegates that he was “deadly serious” about reform of the institution.

The Prime Minister’s speech was interrupted by anti-European Union hecklers, who said the CBI, the host of the speech was “the voice of Brussels”.

The organisation, which represents large businesses, has been consistently in favour of European Union membership.

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