Cameron pledges 'in/out' vote on EU, but only once the dust settles

The prime minister has announced that he is in favour of an 'in or out' referendum on Britain's EU membership by 2017, if the Tories are re-elected.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Stoking the fire of the EU debate, the PM said that it is time for the British people to ‘have their say’ on membership of the bloc, pledging a straight yes or no ballot if the Tories win the next election in 2015.

He said: ‘It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.’

He did clarify that he will seek to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU before extending the vote to the British people, and if he was satisfied with a re-jigged setup, he would campaign with his ‘heart and soul’ for the UK to stay in the bloc. 

Cameron said that there was a sense of ‘disillusionment’ with the EU in the UK, and added that ‘simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice’ would precipitate a national desire to leave the EU.

‘That is not why I am in favour of a referendum, he said, but ‘I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.’

The speech was delivered to the chagrin of the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, who said: ‘You can’t do Europe a la carte. To take an example which our British friends will understand – imagine Europe is a football club and you join, once you’re in it you can’t say ‘let’s play rugby’.’

Regardless of whether you think the referendum is the right way forward, Cameron is walking a political tightrope from which several former prime ministers have tumbled spectacularly in the past. With a pledge like this, he may have put himself in some hot water, further down the line. 

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Upcoming Events

Latest on MT

Brain gain: 5 things bosses can learn from neuroscience

Brain gain: 5 things bosses can learn from neuroscience

Neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart offers five ways to train your brain and get a competitive edge.

7 pieces of corporate jargon to avoid on your CV

7 pieces of corporate jargon to avoid on your CV

Management speak makes you sound smart - to other idiots. So action this results-oriented roadmap for plain speaking success going forward.

Is the EU picking on Apple with its €13bn fine?

Is the EU picking on Apple with its €13bn fine?

It may be unfair to single the iPhone maker out as a tax avoider, but mud sticks and fines sting.

Meet the entrepreneur who keeps skyscrapers in shape

Meet the entrepreneur who keeps skyscrapers in shape

Niel Bethell's building maintenance business High Access has just raised £3.3m.

What are the ingredients of the perfect C-suite?

What are the ingredients of the perfect C-suite?

Harmonious dissonance in the boardroom can be a good thing, says Dean Stamoulis.

The business of golf has landed in the rough

The business of golf has landed in the rough

EDITOR'S BLOG: Adidas and Nike are getting out after conditions turned sub-par.