Cameron says referendum on EU to take place in few months

British Prime Minister David Cameron says UK will hold EU membership referendum within "a few months"

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

British Prime Minister David Cameron holds a briefing during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels December 18, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that an EU referendum will take place a few months early, if the members of the union can agree on the proposals which aim to keep the country in the 28 nation-bloc.  

"We have only got now potentially a few months before we hold this referendum if we get this agreement, if it goes through and we name the date for that referendum," Cameron said.

The proposals which were announced by the President of the EU, Donald Tusk earlier on Tuesday, concerns the four areas where Cameron has demanded reform.  

According to Tusk’s text, if Britain chooses to stay in the EU after the result of the referendum, it could immediately suspend welfare payments to EU migrants for four years.

The draft also gives Britain a right to opt out of further political integration in the 28-member bloc in the case that the referendum ends positively.

The proposal is set to be discussed at a summit with the attendance of all EU members on Feb. 18 and 19.

Following the announcement, Cameron said in a tweet, " Draft EU renegotiation document shows real progress in all four areas where UK needs change but there's more work to do."

Britain's pro-EU campaigners were pleased with the proposals.

"These reforms would be good for Britain. With the changes set out today, Britain would be even stronger in Europe," Stuart Rose, chair of Stronger In, said in a statement.

Eurosceptics were doubtful about it.

"What the government is asking for from the EU is trivial. These proposals will not take back control from the EU," said Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave, one campaign lobbying for Britain to exit the European Union.

"These gimmicks have been ignored by the EU before and will be ignored again as they will not be in the EU treaty," Elliot added.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also made a comment on the proposal saying that he did not expect major opposition from other European Union countries concerning it.  

"I would imagine that (European Council President) Donald Tusk would have consulted with key groups of EU leaders and key countries as he's been discussing this emerging text with us," Hammond said in an interview with Sky News television.

"So I would be very surprised if we have significant negative reaction across the EU to the text that's been tabled because I assume that's something the Council will already have looked at."

TRTWorld and agencies