PM Cameron eases tensions for comments on EU referendum

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he’s been misinterpreted about cabinet ministers having to quit if they don’t support pro-EU campaign

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron’s administration has reassured ministers that they would not be forced to resign after suggesting that ministers who don’t campaign to stay in the EU must quit.

The Conservative party’s leader is negotiating for reforms on Britain relationship on the European Union before an in or out referendum is presented to the British people by 2017.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Germany, Cameron said his stance was to "renegotiate, get a deal that's in Britain's interest and then recommend Britain stays in it."

"If you want to be part of the government you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome," he added.

His comments were comprehended by the press and eurosceptic ministers of parliament as anyone who campaigned in favour of leaving the EU must leave behind their role in the cabinet.

"It's pretty plain -- there's not much room to interpret -- that anybody who is going to vote against and campaign against continued membership of the European Union would have to leave government," ex-Europe minister David Davis said to BBC.

The PM said this was "something of a change" from earlier remarks on the topic and added that it was "rather unwise," assuming some ministers would probably resign.

Over 50 Conservative ministers over the weekend announced they will promote exiting the EU if Cameron does not manage to get the necessary reforms from Brussels.

Parliament chairman, Steve Baker, said on Monday: "If we don't get a sovereign parliament, I would be quite surprised if one or two [ministers] don't resign. "

Cameron’s spokesperson attempted to ease tensions, but, affirmed that whether ministers could campaign on opposing sides of the referendum was still undecided.

"The prime minister was clearly talking yesterday about the position of collective responsibility during the renegotiation, not the referendum campaign,” she said.

It would be an "over-interpretation" to say that anyone campaigning to leave the EU will be sacked, she added.

Since Cameron was re-elected last month, he pushed for passing reforms, touring European capitals to garner support for reforms, especially on EU migrants claiming benefits in Britain.

TRTWorld and agencies