DAVID Cameron will today promise an in-out referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union by the end of 2017.
“It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question,” he will say in his much-delayed speech on the EU, which will be delivered this morning at a location in the City of London.
The Prime Minister will warn that democratic consent for the EU in Britain is “now wafer thin” and say that the UK could “drift towards the exit” unless other European nations are willing to allow some powers be repatriated back from Brussels to Westminster.
“I will not rest until this debate is won. For the future of my country. For the success of the European Union. And for the prosperity of our peoples for generations to come,” he will say.
Although Cameron will stress his desire for Britain to remain in the 27-member bloc, he will make it clear he is not willing to accept membership at any price, since a “very different” organisation will emerge from the Eurozone crisis.
Yet his pledge of a referendum is reliant on the Conservatives winning the 2015 general election.
“The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next parliament,” the Prime Minister will say.
“And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum.”
“Legislation will be drafted before the next election. And if a Conservative government is elected we will introduce the enabling legislation immediately and pass it by the end of that year. And we will complete this negotiation and hold this referendum within the first half of the next parliament.”