Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Cameron's Great Euro Vote Gamble ; PREMIER'S SHOCK MOVE BRINGSWARNING FROM HOME AND ABROAD Clegg Says Plan Is 'Not in National Interest' Miliband Accuses PM of 'Running Scared'

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Cameron's Great Euro Vote Gamble ; PREMIER'S SHOCK MOVE BRINGSWARNING FROM HOME AND ABROAD Clegg Says Plan Is 'Not in National Interest' Miliband Accuses PM of 'Running Scared'

Article excerpt

DAVID Cameron has vowed to campaign "with all my heart and soul" for continued British membership of a reformed EU, despite his intention to hold an in/out referendum.

The prime minister announced a public vote on Europe would be held by 2017, if Conservatives win the next general election.

But the plan brought divisions within the coalition government to the fore, as Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said renegotiation was "not in the national interest" and would create damaging uncertainty for business.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said that Conservatives wanted Britain out of the EU, and accused the prime minister of taking a 'huge gamble' with the economy because he was "running scared" over whether other EU states would be prepared to agree special terms for the UK.

At Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, Mr Miliband demanded to know whether Mr Cameron would vote for British exit if he failed to achieve his negotiating goals.

The Labour leader told MPs: "He is going to put Britain through years of uncertainty and take a huge gamble with our economy.

"He has been driven to it not by the national interest, he has been dragged to it by his party.

"He is running scared of Ukip and has given into his party and he can't deliver for Britain."

Mr Cameron told MPs that Mr Miliband had failed to produce a clear policy on Europe: "We want a renegotiation and then a referendum.

"What does he want? Or doesn't he know?" His challenge prompted the Labour leader to reply: "We do not want an in/out referendum."

" In his address, Mr Cameron said a new EU treaty should be driven by the five key principles of competitiveness, flexibility, return of powers to national governments," of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and his own backbenchers.

But the referendum promise heaped pressure on Mr Miliband, who appeared in the Commons to rule out Labour offering the public a vote.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander later sought to clarify his leader's stance, insisting Labour had 'never said never'to a referendum, but did not think it was right to promise one now.

In a long-awaited speech, Mr Cameron said he wanted a new treaty to reform the EU for all its members, but was ready to demand a renegotiated status for Britain alone if other nations did not agree.

He said draft legislation will be drawn up by the Conservative Party ahead of the election, and will be enacted by the end of 2015 if Tories win to pave the way for renegotiation and referendum within the next two years. Mr Cameron added: "It is time for the British people to have their say."

But there were immediate questions democratic accountability and fairness.

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. …

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