Cameron Promises U.K. Voters ‘Fresh Consent’ Over EU Ties
Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. will seek a “fresh settlement” over its relationship with the European Union, promising “fresh consent” on the matter while stopping short of committing to a referendum.
The premier will use a speech this fall to set out his approach to Europe, pointing to the economic crisis in the euro area as a reason for Britain to retain an arm’s length relationship with the EU.
“A new settlement and a fresh consent from the British people, that is what I believe we need,” Cameron told Sky News today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he is leading a trade delegation. “I think that is the way the country wants to go and that is the way we should go, safeguarding Britain’s interests.”
Cameron is under pressure from his own Conservative lawmakers to set out a more euroskeptic stance on Europe and a referendum on the country’s membership. He is under equal pressure from his Liberal Democrat coalition partners to embrace closer integration.
“The euro zone of 17 countries with one currency; I believe that one day they are going to move towards one economic policy,” Cameron said. “We are not going to be part of that and I think that will provide over time opportunities for a new settlement between Britain and Europe.”
One of the most dangerous areas for Cameron in dealing with his party will come in the EU budget negotiations, slated for November. At a time when the prime minister is overseeing austerity at home, any result other than a reduced contribution from the U.K. will be criticized.
Also under negotiation this year are plans to introduce EU- wide rules on banking, with Britain arguing its own institutions shouldn’t be covered. Cameron last year refused to join 25 other nations in an EU-wide treaty to rescue the euro.
“In the next Parliament, I think there will be opportunities for a fresh settlement and for new consent to that settlement,” Cameron told ITN News.
After a Sept. 24 private dinner for business leaders at his party’s annual conference, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg described opponents of Britain’s membership of the EU as “insular,” “chauvinistic” and “short-sighted.”
More than a quarter of Tory lawmakers defied the prime minister last year to vote for a referendum on leaving the EU. Cameron believes Britain should remain in the bloc.
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