David Cameron today promised a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017, and pledged he would campaign “with all my heart and soul” for Britain to stay in.

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In a major speech in London, the Prime Minister said the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election will ask for a mandate to negotiate a “new settlement” for Britain in Europe, which will be put to voters in a referendum within the first half of the five-year parliament.

Today our reporters across the region are asking people their views about the European Union, and putting to people the question: Do you think Britain should get out of the European Union now?

You can register your view in our online poll and share your comments with us below.

Speaking to a business audience in the City of London, Mr Cameron called for a new EU treaty to reshape the 27-nation bloc, resolve the problems of the eurozone, allow the transfer of powers back from Brussels to national governments and make Europe’s economy more competitive and its institutions more flexible and democratically accountable.

Crucially, he said it was time for the EU to ditch the universal commitment to “ever closer union” and accept that members can decide for themselves how deeply they want to integrate. And he stressed that the EU’s “driving mission” should be to complete and protect the single market.

Mr Cameron said it was his “strong preference” to enact these changes for the whole EU, not just Britain alone.

But if other member states are unwilling to go ahead with a new treaty, Mr Cameron said he was ready to renegotiate the UK’s position to achieve a settlement “in which Britain can be more comfortable and all our countries can thrive”.

Standing in front of a backdrop with the slogan “Britain and Europe”, Mr Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”

And he added: “When the referendum comes, let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul.

“Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it.”

Mr Cameron warned voters that their decision in a referendum will be “an important choice to make about our country’s destiny” and cautioned against opting for exit without thinking through the consequences.

• See tomorrow’s paper for full analysis and reaction from around the region.

31 comments

  • Gosh, this sounds so serious I think something should jolly well be done about it right now. If we wait another 4 years we might all become Romanians. Even worse he might be PM still and everyone's forgotten what he promised to get elected, which would mean we're back in exactly our current situation. I don't suppose the Romanian economy is as bankrupt as ours, small wonder then that they all want to live here.

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Come on now it's nothing more than political gerrymandering. The vast majority of politicians business leaders and money people want to stay in the EU, as these are the people who benefit from it, So that's where we will stay. Are you all so naive to think that us plebs will get a vote?

    Report this comment

    Cuthbert J. Twillie

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • David Cameron told the City what he proposes to do on the EU. Business wants to have their cake and eat it. Stay in the EU as the trade situation will be better than if we either left or stayed in under different terms, companies will say. Get employment policy back from Brussels. Allow a future right of centre Conservative government to give British workers less employment rights than those in EU countries. (I offer no personal opinion here)

    Report this comment

    Capri

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • It's all ifs, buts, and maybes and the chances of there being a referendum are remote to say the least. Anyone with half a brain can see the reasons behind Camerons statement, they are the words of a party running scared.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Thank you for your comment BG. Unless Miliband has "special powers" he cannot predict the result of the next election either. My point is that Cameron has a track record of offering referendums prior to an election and then reneging on his promise.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • It's early days yet but at the time of writing the vote is 67% to 33% against leaving the European Union. I just can't see a referendum producing a conclusive result somehow. As a Conservative, I am thoroughly fed up with the way the party gets itself into such a state over this issue. I appreciate why the anti-Europe members don't leave the Conservative Party and sign up to UKIP but perhaps they should have the courage of their convictions and do so, otherwise the party will just tear itself apart in never-ending rifts and recriminations. Also, a good Prime Minister will be persistently distracted from the other vital issues that afflict us or worn to a frazzle and ultimately sacrificed.

    Report this comment

    JCW

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Once again Cameron is deceiving the electorate by diverting our attention from the dire state of our economy. We been here before with his promise of a vote on the Lisbon treaty, which never happened. This announcement is purely because the Tories believe it can deliver votes. Unless there is a major turnaround my guess is it is doubtful if Cameron will lead the Tories into the next election. The subsequent result of that election is anyones guess. Promising a referendum in 2018 holds about as much truth as promising us all a £10k tax refund in 2018. No one can say what the situation will be after the next election. I am a self employed businessman, in theory I should be a card carrying member of the Conservative party. I will not be voting Tory until Cameron and Osbourne have been banished from our shores or tried for treason.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • At least Cameron won't have to build a Berlin style wall to keep Democratic Europe out. I can see the food queues starting, state taser police, and the end of Human rights. At least we will be proud to be British.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Cameron already has form on breaking pledges on a referendum and the Tories can't even get their party political broadcasts to tell the truth when they claim to be "paying down the debts" and the debts have gone up 60%.When it comes to a general election the latest polling shows only 2% of the population are worried about Europe,which is even for UKIP supporters the 4th most important issue.The Tories just cannot stop banging on about Europe.It's a toxic obsession that will bring their downfall.The stupid party just cannot see it.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • I see Netanyahu is claiming victory in the Israeli general election. What chance DaveCam will support a further campaign in Gaza in pursuit of the Jewish vote? Every little counts - should be his manifesto slogan.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • You are off course right Capri, taking back employment rights will undermine Britain's wages structures and serve those who are already earning on the tax payer, the MP's and Lords who have vital business interest in the NHS privatisation, for example. First reactions from other EU countries is, not on our Nelly. Britain has already ensured many opt outs and should get involved in shaping a new EU not make demands and threats when unity is needed.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • So a promise of a referendum and then there is all the other nasty idea's that the Conservatives will throw in, looks like we're stuck in the EEU why would anyone be stupid enought to vote this lot in again just for a referendum? Ever?

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • When the Tory landowners realise how much money they will lose once they don't have European farm subsidies they'll soon change their tune.

    Report this comment

    Betty Swallocks

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • When the new lot of poor people (around 3 million plus) head for Blighty at the end of this year, one can only guess that all the native folk would vote for get out of the EU.However, as no vote would be held until 2018 the damage would've have already been already done and irreversible,we can then all wait for next lot to scramble to our fair isle..Albiania, Turkey and the fantastic Serbia (sic)

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    nrg

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • For what are we voting? the promise of a referendum without saying what he wants to get out of the EU is scare mongering. It looks like Mr. Cameron has been gripped by backbench and UKIP fever. This position will not bode well at next years EU elections unless he has serious concessions by then. My mandate is as follows: an reformed agricultural policy, a financial transaction tax and banking regulations banning speculative derivative trading, an elected commission, a common annual interest rate, audit returns before every EU elections and a EU peace and defence force and a rigorous accession test. There is something to start off with.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • @ MediaDoc - " No one can say what the situation will be after the next election." So why has Miliband acted rather rashly today and ruled out a referendum full stop. Your arguments about DC therefore are as equally valid for Ed Miliband refusing to hold a referendum when he doesn`t know what the future holds anymore than the rest of us..

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • @ MediaDoc - I totally agree. But they all offer us the earth to get elected. Labour promised not to bring in tuition fees but they did and the Lib Dems, well enough said. None of them are a Ronseal moment are they.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Its not so much what DC has promised today, it`s the stance of the Labour party. Ed Miliband clearly said today that Labour will never give the UK a referendum on the EU. A bit silly really as this has not given him any wriggle room. Should their be a second flood of EU immigrants Miliband will look increasingly out of touch with the British public and he will be under immense pressure to hold a referendum which will be total humiliation for him and Labour. DC has played a very clever hand today and Ed is very much now on the back foot.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • BG, the first flood hasn't finished yet..the high unemployment figures for the last entry countries is still around the 17 per cent mark. Most poor people in former communist and bankrupted countries, would rather be 'poor' in Blighty.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • @ John L Norton. It maybe full of if, buts and maybes. More importantly Miliband has unequivocally put himself at direct odds with the majority of the electorate which won`t do Labour any good at the EU, local and General Elections in areas which have been affected by high levels of immigration. Like Gt Yarmouth. Expect the Conservatives to narrow the gap even further between them and Labour which won`t please Labour`s union paymasters one little bit. A real strategic blunder by Miliband today which the Tories will make the most of.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Completley agree BG. I think that when the current administration came to power we mistakenly believed it would work for the nations best interests. Especially after the complete disaster of the previous Labour administration. Some hope. It has descended into petty arguments, personal agendas and our economy heading for a triple dip recession.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Something simply has to be done about immigration. I know the 2010 mainfesto promised to reduce net migration by tens of thousands per year, as well as an annual limit on immigration, oh yes, and curbs on unskilled workers, and “transitional controls” on new European Union members, but these things have simply not been possible because not enough of you voted Conservative last time. I hope the message is clear - if you want any Conservative election promises to be met, ever, you must keep voting Conservative, forever.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Would the votes cast by the residents of West Norfolk be ignored if they weren't in line with what Cameron wanted in this referendum? Not as warm as the T&C granted, but Murphy et al could teach Cameron a trick or two how to get round any unpopular votes by 65,516 people.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Completley agree BG. I think that when the current administration came to power we mistakenly believed it would work for the nations best interests. Especially after the complete disaster of the previous Labour administration. Some hope. It has descended into petty arguments, personal agendas and our economy heading for a triple dip recession.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Thank you for your comment BG. Unless Miliband has "special powers" he cannot predict the result of the next election either. My point is that Cameron has a track record of offering referendums prior to an election and then reneging on his promise.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Completley agree BG. I think that when the current administration came to power we mistakenly believed it would work for the nations best interests. Especially after the complete disaster of the previous Labour administration. Some hope. It has descended into petty arguments, personal agendas and our economy heading for a triple dip recession.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • So CamSham plays another blinder, or is it unravelling already? A desperate publicity stunt to woo back support from UKIP before the next election, to add to the gay vote he was recently chasing. If it's not a PR stunt, why the weeks of pre-announcement hype, and the delay so it didn't get knocked off top billing by the hostage crisis? Then again it means the fanatically devotional response from the slavish national media allowed the atrocious economic results for December to pass by without a mention. Another £26 billion borrowed for god knows what, with a total debt now over £1.1 trillion. Osbo "another good day to bury bad news David, please". What he actually "promised", a vote on a proposal that he has yet to negotiate with the EU, so what chance that there will be anything on the table by 2017 even. It's more of the vague, aspirational, detail-free, populist stuff that got him to PM in the first place. That was successful so keep cranking out more Dave. Why no referendum now, what was it he waffled, ah yes, the EU is currently in a state of flux so we wouldn't know what we're voting on. A pathetic excuse for delaying until after the election. Can't have the referendum now or that vote-winning carrot is gone. The EU has been in turmoil for the last 5 years and I doubt very much another 5 will see much improvement.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • David Cameron`s `cast iron guarantee` was worthless and he will have no poblem wormimg his way out of this latest pledge either.The only way to break the cycle is to ignore the three main parties, mind you if the electorate haven`t realised they are all liars and cheats by now they never will.

    Report this comment

    John Bridge

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

  • DC is scared about his own backbenchers and the speech planned for two years, has left his party bare. Obama has told DC what to say and do, he does not want to loose his easy access via his economic aircraft carrier Britain. Politics in this country is stale and the electorate is largely uninformed, bar those who have to deal with Europe.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  • Ha ha, just seen some euroseptic backbench sort interviewed on BBC News 24, bang on message. You know all those things one promised to do before the general election can't be done because of those blasted libdems. If only more of you had voted Conservative. You know being in government is about making tough choices, and the libdems wouldn't let us have a referendum in this parliament as well as cutting the top rate of tax. The message is clear, if you want to see Conservative pre-election promises delivered, ever, you need to keep on voting Conservative, forever.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

  • Once again Cameron is deceiving the electorate by diverting our attention from the dire state of our economy. We been here before with his promise of a vote on the Lisbon treaty, which never happened. This announcement is purely because the Tories believe it can deliver votes. Unless there is a major turnaround my guess is it is doubtful if Cameron will lead the Tories into the next election. The subsequent result of that election is anyones guess. Promising a referendum in 2018 holds about as much truth as promising us all a £10k tax refund in 2018. No one can say what the situation will be after the next election. I am a self employed businessman, in theory I should be a card carrying member of the Conservative party. I will not be voting Tory until Cameron and Osbourne have been banished from our shores or tried for treason.

    Report this comment

    MediaDoc

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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