Cameron warns of leaving EU if UK’s demands are not met

UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron gives more details regarding his demands for changes to Britain’s EU membership ahead of in-out referendum which will be held before end of 2017

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

British Prime Minister David Cameron walks to his car as he leaves Chatham House in central London on November 10, 2015

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that he was confident of achieving the four main objectives at the re-negotiations regarding Britain’s EU membership, stressing that the UK would have to ‘think again’ about staying in the EU if his demands were not met.

Four objectives are, guarantee of fairness for non euro zone members, boosting competitiveness, exemption from the principle of ‘ever-closer union’ and tackling freedom of movement abuses.

Cameron's speech came on the same day that he was due to send a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, explaining his four main objectives for changes to Britain’s EU membership.

"Never forget that the European Union now comprises 28 ancient nations of Europe. That very diversity is Europe's greatest strength. Britain says let's celebrate that fact, let's acknowledge that the answer to every problem is not always more Europe. Sometimes it's less Europe," he said in a speech on Tuesday.

"And at the heart of this negotiation is actually a very simple question: is the European Union flexible enough to accommodate the concerns of its very different member states. The answer to that question must be yes if the EU is to survive and prosper in the future."

Cameron also expressed the UK’s concerns about ‘ever closer union’ saying that "I can tell you today that as part of our re-negotiation, I'm asking European leaders for a clear, legally binding and irreversible agreement to end Britain's obligation to work for an ever closer union."

When asked about the possibility of a second referendum, Cameron said that it was the UK’s ‘only chance to get this right’ ahead of an in-or-out referendum by the end of 2017.

"If we vote to leave, then we will leave. There will not be another re-negotiation and another referendum. So I say to my European counterparts with whom I am negotiating, this is our only chance to get this right - for Britain and for the whole European Union."

Cameron also said Britain would not seek veto powers to block EU legislation, but the EU should allow parliaments of member states to reject some laws if they oppose to them.

"We're not suggesting a veto for every single national parliament," Cameron said.

"We acknowledge that in a Europe of 28 (countries), that would mean gridlock. But we want to see a new arrangement where groups of national parliaments come together and reject European laws which are not in their national interest."

Cameron said he hoped to make good progress on the reforms of the EU during the bloc’s meeting next month. However, he has not given any indication towards an exact date for Britain’s EU membership referendum.

"I hope we can make really good progress in December and I've done everything possible to make that happen. We don't have to hold our referendum until the end of 2017, but I'm keen to secure these changes to get on with it, and I've been working very hard to do that."

‘Mission Impossible’

Cameron on Tuesday began efforts to reform the European Union, with the declaration that his demands from the EU are not “Mission Impossible”.

"There will be those who say, here and elsewhere in the EU, that we are embarked on Mission Impossible," Cameron said, according to advance extracts released by his office.

"I do not believe so for a minute."

Cameron has said he favours staying in a reformed EU, but he would consider leaving the 28-member bloc if he cannot secure the changes that he demands.

The British leader is committed to negotiating a “better deal” with the EU ahead of the referendum.

"The European Union has a record of solving intractable problems. It can solve this one. Let us therefore resolve to do so," he will say in the letter, according to his office.

Cameron in the recent weeks has ramped up the case against people who want to leave the bloc, highlighting the benefits of being in a reformed organisation. He has warned that Britain could see its security compromised if it left the EU.

Opinion polls indicate that most Britons are considering to vote to stay in the EU, but the gap between “Yes” and “No” votes has been narrowing due to concerns over thousands of refugee arrivals in EU.


TRTWorld and agencies