David Cameron could bring the referendum on EU membership forward to next year – a year earlier than was originally promised.
The Prime Minister is drawing up the plans in order to avoid coinciding with the German and French elections in 2017, which could end up creating a crash. One source told The Guardian there was a “mood” to “accelerate” the process. “We had always said that 2017 was a deadline rather than a fixed date,” they said.
Today, an all-Tory cabinet has gathered at 10 Downing street for the first time in 18 years, after the party won a surprise majority at the General Election last week. The question of EU membership was one of Cameron's key topics in his pre-election campaign.
Sajid Javid, the newly appointed business secretary, said the referendum would be held before the end of 2017 and that the government would "provide more information over the coming weeks and months".
Negotiations in the pipeline
In order for the process to be sped up, legislation must allow the vote to be passed through parliament at a faster rate. If the House of Lords doesn't resist, the referendum could enter the statute book by the end of 2015.
First, however, Cameron intends to try and renegotiate the UK's terms with the bloc, with the hope of establishing a relationship that is more in the country's interests.