British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that if his party wins the next election, he plans to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership in the European Union and then ask the British people to vote on it.
Mr. Cameron made the comments in a long-awaited speech Wednesday in which he warned that public disillusionment with the EU is “at an all-time high.” He said a new relationship with the EU should be one “with a single market at its heart.”
He said the British people would then be given “a very simple in-or-out vote” on whether to accept the new terms or leave the EU.
“So 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. It will be a relationship with the single market at its heart 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 European Union on these new terms or to come out altogether.”
The prime minister’s announcement has displeased some of Britain’s allies. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday that Germany wants Britain to remain an active and constructive part of the EU. But he added that London cannot pick and choose only the aspects of membership it likes.
The United States has said in the past that it wants Britain to remain a “strong voice” within the EU.
The next British election is expected in 2015.
(British prime minister David Cameron speaks to reporters before the EU Council summit in November 2012. Photo: The Council of the European Union)