Prime Minister David Cameron said the task of keeping Britain in the European Union is now more difficult after he failed to block the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission.
Cameron, who’s promised a referendum on U.K. membership of the 28-nation bloc by the end of 2017 if his Conservative Party wins next year’s general election, said EU leaders made a “serious mistake” in nominating the former Luxembourg prime minister.
“In a Europe crying out for reform we’ve gone for the career insider,” Cameron told reporters after the leaders voted 26-2 to appoint Juncker at a summit in Brussels today. “The job has got harder of keeping Britain in a reformed European Union,” he said, though “it’s still doable and I’m still committed to doing it.”
The prime minister set out a plan in January 2013 to reform the EU, renegotiate Britain’s relationship with it and hold a referendum on membership in a bid to placate Tory euro-skeptics and to stop voters turning to the U.K. Independence Party, which argues for British withdrawal.
Juncker’s appointment was opposed by Cameron both because the Luxembourger supports closer integration between the countries in the EU and because he was nominated after an agreement between groups of parties standing in last month’s European Parliament elections. Cameron says the appointment should be made by EU leaders and not the legislature.
“This is not the outcome I wanted; this is an important stand but it’s not the last stand,” Cameron said after forcing an unprecedented vote on Juncker’s appointment. “It redoubles my belief in reforming this place and making it work for Britain and securing a good result.”
A YouGov Plc poll carried out on June 19-20 showed British voters favoring an exit from the EU tied with those wanting to stay in the bloc on 39 percent.