BBC, THE GUARDIAN, THE TELEGRAPH (UK), THE NEW YORK TIMES (USA)
LONDON - UK Prime Minister David Cameron has opened the door to a national referendum to allow voters to decide whether to pull Britain out of the European Union.
During a much anticipated speech Wednesday in London, Cameron said that if he is reelected in 2015, he would call the referendum if in the meantime he is unable to change the current terms of EU membership to something more favorable to Britain.
Describing British popular support for the Union as "wafer-thin," he said the founding purpose of the EU was “to secure peace. That mission is over.”
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Photo: DFID - UK Department for International Development via Wikipedia
Having originally planned to deliver the speech last Friday in the Netherlands, but delaying it because of the hostage crisis in Algeria, the Prime Minister described British disillusionment with the Union as at “an all-time high.”
If Britain was to receive a new deal that Cameron was happy with, then the Conservatives would campaign “heart and soul” to keep the country inside the EU. The BBC reports that the opposition, the Labour party, have said that Cameron’s pledge defined him “as a weak prime minister, being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest.”
Cameron said: “We would have to think carefully too about the impact on our influence at the top table of international affairs. There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union,” the New York Times reported.
In his coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, led by Ed Milliband, this will most likely broaden tensions as they are much more pro-European than the Tories. Milliband described Cameron's move on the radio this morning as "something that could cause real damage," writes The Guardian.
Should the Tories win in the 2015 election, says The Guardian, the referendum will be put to the public by 2017. But before then, he will seek a better deal for the UK from the EU: “If there is no appetite for a new treaty for us all then of course Britain should be ready to address the changes we need in a negotiation with our European partners