Angry at EU, Britain wants new deal
LONDON — Laying out a vision that could lead his country out of the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed Wednesday to negotiate a new relationship with the 27-nation trading bloc and put Britain's continued membership to a national vote.
In possibly the most important speech of his premiership so far, Cameron said many of his compatriots were fed up with growing centralization of power in Brussels and that a new deal was necessary. He pledged to try to win concessions for Britain and then let voters pass judgment, by the end of 2017, in a referendum on whether they wanted to remain in the EU.
A withdrawal could jeopardize Britain's access to European markets and diminish its influence on the world stage, particularly its role as a bridge to Europe for the United States. But Cameron called the status quo unacceptable to too many Britons and said a fresh mandate from voters to stay in the EU was imperative.
“It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe,” Cameron said.
He has to win another term as prime minister first, in an election due in 2015. His Conservative Party will run on a platform making a plebiscite an immediate priority upon a return to power, Cameron said.
Such a referendum would be the first time in about 40 years that Britons had a direct say on their status within Europe, a topic that has inspired deep ambivalence in this island nation for decades. Winston Churchill used to say about Europe that Britain was “in it” but not “of it”; the country's EU entrance in 1973 was a hand-wringing affair from the start.
Cameron emphasized his own support for Britain's continued membership — albeit on more favorable terms — in the EU, which offers free movement of goods and people across the world's biggest trading bloc, comprising 500 million people.
“I am not a British isolationist, but I do want a better deal for Britain,” he said. “I want the European Union to be a success, and I want a relationship between Britain and the European Union that keeps us in it.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Saudi king warns of terrorist threat to Europe, US
- Peacekeepers, rebels clash near Golan Heights
- EU preps further sanctions on Russia as ‘full-scale war’ looms in Ukraine
- Guatemalan village expels Jewish group
- 20 rescued from gold mine shaft
- Yemenis protest against Shiites
- Polish leader, Italian diplomat to fill key EU posts
- Tropical storm backs off Bahamas
- Israel, Hamas accept Gaza war cease-fire
- Zimbabwe’s first lady enters politics amidst controversy
- Libyan militia accuses Egypt, United Arab Emirates of airstrikes