Web poll: David Cameron pledges referendum on the EU - but what do you think about Britain’s position in Europe?
PUBLISHED: 12:21 23 January 2013 | UPDATED: 12:21 23 January 2013
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.
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.