David Cameron fires starting gun for grand bargain with Europe

Jessica Morris
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David Cameron will meet other European Union leaders today, ahead of a referendum on EU membership (Source: Getty)

Newly re-elected Prime minister David Cameron will hold his first talks with European Union leaders today, as he attempts to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership in the bloc ahead of a referendum in 2017.

"Today I will start discussions in earnest with fellow leaders on reforming the EU and renegotiating the UK's relationship with it," Cameron said in a statement.

"These talks will not be easy. They will not be quick. There will be different views and disagreements along the way. But by working together in the right spirit and sticking at it, I believe we can find solutions that will address the concerns of the British people and improve the EU as a whole."

Yesterday Cameron introduced sweeping legislation cracking down on foreign workers as well as the landlords, banks and employers that help them as well.

The Tories were bought into government after a shock election win with a mandate to hold a referendum of Britain's membership to the European Union in 2017.

Nevertheless there's been talk it could take place earlier than this as media reports suggested that 2017 was a deadline rather than a fixed date.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney previously said the vote on Britain's membership to the EU should be held "as soon as necessary".

This view has been echoed by business leaders, who called for the government to act with “appropriate speed” in pushing through an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

At the same time city veteran and top Tory donor Michael Spencer warned against rushing into a quick referendum, arguing that the prime minister needs time to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

Additionally numerous business leaders have spoken about the disastrous impact a "Brexit" could have on the economy, saying it would temporarily halt foreign direct investment, and make trading and hiring more difficult.

A recent survey showed that just one per cent of Britain's senior executives think Britain should leave the EU. However, it revealed significant support for major reforms of the EU.

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