Fury as PM pledges referendum on EU
Prime Minister David Cameron's promise of an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union sparked a furious political row in Westminster last night.
Liberal Democrats said it was not in the national interest and Labour accused him of "running scared" of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and his own backbenchers.
In a high-profile 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 by the end of 2017.
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.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
He said he would campaign "with all my heart and soul" for Britain to stay in a reformed EU.
His offer threatened to drive a wedge through the heart of the coalition Government, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warning a renegotiation of Britain's position in Europe was "not in the national interest" and would lead to years of uncertainty for business.
There were immediate questions over whether other EU states would be prepared to negotiate a special "a la carte" membership for the UK.
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said: "Germany wants the United Kingdom to remain an active and constructive part of the European Union... but cherry-picking is not an option."
His French opposite number, Laurent Fabius, said France would "roll out the red carpet" for businesses leaving the UK if it chose to quit the EU, he said.
Mr Cameron warned voters 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.