Cameron wants early ref­er­en­dum on Brexit

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron plans to bring for­ward a planned ref­er­en­dum on Bri­tain’s mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union from 2017, he said on Sun­day.

Un­der pres­sure from Euroscep­tic mem­bers of his own Con­ser­va­tive party and the rise in pop­u­lar­ity of the anti-EU UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP), Cameron has pledged to rene­go­ti­ate Bri­tain’s ties with the 28 na­tion bloc and try to claw back pow­ers to London.

He has said he will hold a ref­er­en­dum in 2017 if the To­ries win a na­tional elec­tion on May 7.

“If I think we could do that ear­lier I would be de­lighted. The sooner I can de­liver on this com­mit­ment of a rene­go­ti­a­tion and a ref­er­en­dum ... the bet­ter,” he told the BBC.

Cameron is set to dis­cuss his re­form plans, which in­clude re­strict­ing EU mi­grants’ ac­cess to wel­fare pay­ments, with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in London on Wed­nes­day. He has said they will re­quire treaty change, but Merkel has made clear she will not al­low the EU’s rules on work­ers’ free­dom of move­ment to be di­luted.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage told Sky News that un­der Cameron’s plans, the ref­er­en­dum had been “kicked into the long grass” and said his rene­go­ti­a­tion looked “highly im­prob­a­ble”.

The May elec­tion looks set to be one of the most closely fought in mod­ern Bri­tish his­tory. While the Con­ser­va­tives are nar­rowly trail­ing the op­po­si­tion Labour in most polls, an­a­lysts pre­dict nei­ther will win a majority, pos­si­bly re­sult­ing in another coali­tion of two or more par­ties, with the ju­nior coali­tion cen­tre-left Lib­eral Democrats trad­ing blows with Labour on Sun­day over the econ­omy and health­care.

Labour says the Con­ser­va­tives have bor­rowed much more than planned and now aim to cut the bud­get deficit too fast and too deeply for purely ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons.

Cameron said fur­ther planned pub­lic spend­ing cuts were “mod­er­ate, sen­si­ble, rea­son­able” while Labour’s pro­pos­als would mean more bor­row­ing and an ex­tra GBP 13.5 bln in debt in­ter­est pay­ments by the end of the next par­lia­ment.

On Sun­day, Labour un­veiled two cam­paign posters and a 27 page doc­u­ment crit­i­cis­ing what it de­scribed as fall­ing stan­dards in the state-funded Na­tional Health Ser­vice (NHS) un­der Cameron and warn­ing the Con­ser­va­tives’ planned cuts would dam­age it fur­ther.

“Our health ser­vice as you know it won’t sur­vive another five years of David Cameron,” Labour elec­tion chief Dou­glas Alexan­der said. “That is why the NHS is on the bal­lot pa­per at this elec­tion.”

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