EURO DEBATE: Mixed response to Cameron's big speech
David Cameron’s promise of a
referendum on Britain’s EU membership has received a mixed reaction
Speaking on Wednesday, the prime
minister said if the Conservatives won the next election, Britons
would have the chance to vote on staying in or leaving the
union by the end of 2017...
Tory MP Gordon Henderson has welcomed the
announcement – saying the EU has moved too far away from the
free-trade area Britain joined in 1973.
He said: “It was a long and thoughtful speech that I urge
everyone to read rather than looking at the snippets in the
“The most important part of the speech was the shortest sentence
which is that it will be an in/out referendum and that’s
something the parliamentary group Better Off Out of the EU, which
I’m a member of, has been pushing for so naturally I’m
“For too long our politicians of all parties have decided on
whether or not Britain should be a member of the EU but the British
public have not had the opportunity for 40 years.
"I think the time is right now for the British public to decide
if they want to remain a member of the EU based on any
renegotiations the Prime Minster is able to make before we do
“My preference would be to have an in/out referendum now or to
have it as soon as we can but I can understand the logic that we
need time to have a proper debate so people can understand all the
“I do think we need to renegotiate our relationship to make sure
it reverts back to what it originally intended to be, which is
effectively a free trade area.
"I think if you speak to many people they say we joined a common
market, we’re happy about that but we have been swept into a wider
political arena and we need to change that.
“Ed Miliband [leader of the Labour party] has made it clear he
doesn’t want an in/out referendum so unless he changes his mind I
don’t know if Labour feel as if they will have to follow suit.”
Roger Truelove, Labour leader on Swale council,
said: “Having listened carefully to the speech, I have to say it
was a very confused message.
"He says ‘it’s time for the British people to have their say’
but apparently it isn’t time until 2017.
"All this talk about re-negotiating is a mirage. Mr Cameron
wants to stay in but has offered up this speech to try to keep his
“The country’s relationship is bound to change over the next few
years, not through negotiation but because the Eurozone, of which
we are not a part, is going to become much more of a federal
"So, my personal view is that a referendum on our relationship
with Europe could well be right as and when the situation is more
"In the meantime, I would like to see the Government
concentrating much more on economic growth, which is not helped by
a thoroughly confused position on Europe.
“Labour does not have to “follow suit”. We have to make a
judgement in the National interest much nearer to a General
Election when the relationship with Europe will be much
Keith Nevols, previous Lib Dem Parliamentary
candidate, said: “I’m not impressed with the speech - it’s
more about party politics and keeping the Tory party united than it
is about the national interest.
“It doesn’t solve any of the immediate issues and I’ve
always felt that Britain should have a more positive role in the
"At summits we are always on the outside looking in when we
should be coming up with ideas about how to solve problems in the
“The EU should be more flexible, diverse and democratic but this
is not the way to go about it.”
Ian Davison UK stood as UKIP's candidate at the
election. He said: "David Cameron’s speech on the EU was
billed as a major announcement.
It was nothing of the kind. It was simply a rehash of previous
statements and broken promises.
"It contained yet another ‘promise’ of a referendum at some
point in the future IF he can renegotiate terms.
"These were the promises he made when seeking election in 2010,
and now he seeks re-election in 2015 on the back of the same
"There is already legislation in place that supposedly requires
a referendum in the event of future powers being passed over to the
"In fact, these powers are already being transferred over on a
regular basis, and we have had no referendum. How can he possibly
expect anyone to believe him yet again?
“The bottom line is that David Cameron is running scared on this
issue. He has been exposed as talking strong on the EU but acting
weak. And he knows the British people have seen through him.
"Faced with UKIP opinion poll results showing up to 16% of
people now intend to vote UKIP in a general election he knows that
unless he can fool the people yet again, he will not be Prime
Minister after 2015.”
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