BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to call an “in-out” referendum for voters on the European Union – and France has replied with a promise to “roll out the red carpet” for companies who would leave the UK to keep their major European markets.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Cameron he could not have “Europe à la carte” and said it “was like football, once you are in a club you cannot then say you want to play rugby”.
News of Cameron’s speech in London today was greeted on French news websites with comments suggesting that once outside Europe Britons should need “a visa” for France with “a Customs post at Calais”.
Other comments suggested “the UK has more to lose than to win by leaving the EU”.
However, others said “in the UK the people can decide”. One comment said: “We did not want Europe in 2005 [the referendum on the European constitution held by President Chirac] but Sarkozy imposed it in signing the Lisbon treaty in 2007; we did not want gay marriage, but Hollande is also imposing that. You see which side of the Channel you find democracy.”
In a speech in London today, Cameron said that the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election would ask for a mandate to renegotiate a “new settlement” for Britain in Europe.
He added: “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.”
The referendum would be before 2017 and he said he wanted to remain in Europe, adding they had to “weigh carefully where our national interests lie” bearing in mind that Europe is Britain’s biggest market.
“Even if we pulled out completely, decisions made in the EU would continue to have a profound effect on our country. But we would have lost all our remaining vetoes and our voice in those decisions.”
* See February's Connexion for views on what would happen if the UK pulled out of Europe. It is on sale from Friday, or call Nathalie on 06 40 61 71 97 or 0844 256 9881 (4p/minute from UK) to order a copy.
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