David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum in the UK to decide if Britain will remain part of the EU.
The referendum will come in the early part of the next parliament if the Conservatives win the next election. In a speech 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. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.”
Cameron said the referendum would make a decision on the “destiny” of the UK. He also said that if he was successful in getting a more satisfactory relationship with the EU he would campaign “heart and soul” to stay within the union.
The decision to hold the referendum has angered some. France and Germany have both warned that the UK cannot “cherry pick” its EU membership, while Eurosceptics have welcomed the move.
Businesses seem divided on the move. A group of 55 business leaders have written to The Times supporting Cameron’s strategy, while some foreign investors have said they will raise the cost of UK borrowing in markets. The group, which includes the Chairman of Rolls Royce, said: “We need a new relationship with the EU, backed by democratic mandate.”
The Confederation of British Industry has said it will work with David Cameron to get the “best deal for Britain.” “The EU single market is fundamental to Britain’s future economic success, but the closer union of the Eurozone is not for us,” said CBI Director-General John Cridland “The Prime Minister rightly recognises the benefits of retaining membership of what must be a reformed EU.”
Not everyone supports the referendum. British Manufacturing organisation the EEF warned that the PM’s strategy was “not without risk.” “The Prime Minister’s speech set out a compelling vision of how Europe needs to change,” said the group “It is in the interests of the UK and business that the EU is a dynamic economy creating jobs and prosperity for all member states. We must work better with Europe to make Europe work better for Britain.
“If the door to a UK exit from the union is open it will diminish our ability to influence the reforms that Europe needs. It is far from certain, moreover, that the outcome of negotiations will be clear cut, meaning that greater uncertainty about UK membership – particularly for business, will prevail.”
The European Union question has far reaching consequences for every sector. CAT invites its readers to get in touch with their views on the subject.