DAVID Cameron has promised an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017 if the Tories win the next General Election - how would you vote?
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But before you vote, consider the arguement.
In a major speech, Mr Cameron said the manifesto for the 2015 General Election will ask for a mandate to negotiate a ‘new settlement’ for Britain in Europe, with a referendum within the first half of the five-year Parliament.
But the PM said he will campaign ‘with all his heart and soul’ for Britain to stay in the European Union when the referendum comes.
And he warned voters that, if the UK did decide to leave, it would be ‘a one-way ticket, not a return’.
Mr Cameron called for a new EU treaty to reshape the 27-nation bloc, resolve the problems of the eurozone, allow the transfer of powers back from Brussels to national governments, and make Europe’s economy more competitive and its institutions more flexible and democratically accountable.
He said it was his ‘strong preference’ to enact these changes for the whole EU, not just Britain alone.
But if other members are unwilling to go ahead with a new treaty, Mr Cameron said he was ready to renegotiate the UK’s position to achieve a settlement ‘in which Britain can be more comfortable and all our countries can thrive’.
Standing in front of a backdrop with the slogan ‘Britain and Europe’, Mr Cameron said: “The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next Parliament.
“It will be a relationship with the single market at its heart. And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice.
“To stay in the EU on these new terms or come out altogether. It will be an in/out referendum.”
Mr Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged public support for the EU is ‘thin’ in the UK.
FOR: City businessman Andrew Cook
I THINK the Prime Minister is absolutely right.
This is an issue that should be put to the country, but with great care and the opportunity beforehand of getting rid of some of the least popular elements of the UK’s membership.
The UK needs to be a member of the EU. I think we would be much worse off as a nation if we were to withdraw.
It’s like being a member of a club - if you don’t like the chairman or committee, it is better to stay in and try to push for change.
By leaving, you are the loser in the end.
This country is not really capable of standing on its own two feet in the world. We are not a Norway, Switzerland or Australia.
Britain belongs in the EU.
Europe is the UK’s biggest single market trading partner. It is extremely important that we stay in the EU but on the right terms.
AGAINST: Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield
After listening to Cameron’s speech, I met an executive from one of the UK’s leading accountancy firms who was appalled by the speech.
So much of our economy and so many jobs depend on our membership of the EU and will be threatened by the uncertainty created by the Prime Minister.
There’s little chance Cameron will succeed in renegotiating our membership - if he can’t persuade his own party to support him, how can he hope to persuade the rest of Europe? What if he did? Repatriating powers sounds great, but his top demand would be taking back benefits, like the entitlement to paid holidays the EU has given working people. His ideal Europe is where British bosses get rich in the single market by cutting employees’ working conditions and reducing employment costs. He is putting party management before national interest.
* See our South Yorkshire vox pop in The Star on Thursday, January 24, 2013.