Cameron told to expect resignations over EU vote
UK Prime Minister David Cameron was warned Monday that some of his ministers would likely resign after he demanded his cabinet back any deal he struck on EU reform and vote to stay in the bloc in a forthcoming referendum.
Cameron made the comments after a group of more than 50 lawmakers from his Conservative party said they would lead calls for the UK to leave the European Union unless he secures major concessions from Brussels.
“If you want to be part of the government you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome,” Cameron said at the G-7 summit.
“Everyone in government has signed up to the program set out in the Conservative manifesto,” he added, in comments reported by the British media.
Cameron has pledged to campaign for Britain to remain in the EU after renegotiating the country’s ties with the bloc ahead of the vote, planned by 2017.
“The government isn’t neutral in this. We have a clear view: renegotiate, get a deal that’s in Britain’s interest and then recommend Britain stays in it,” he said Sunday.
But Cameron is vulnerable to resistance from the euroskeptic wing of his Conservative party, which has only a slim majority in parliament.
A newly formed group, Conservatives for Britain, which looks set to lead calls to leave the EU, is said to have the support of at least 50 Tory lawmakers so far.
Its chairman in parliament, lawmaker Steve Baker, said he expected some ministers would resign rather than campaign in favor of staying the European Union.
“If we don’t get a sovereign parliament, I would be quite surprised if one or two don’t resign. But that really is a matter for them,” he told BBC radio.
Another Tory MP, former Europe Minister David Davis, also predicted resignations, saying Cameron’s position was “rather unwise.”
“It’s pretty plain — there’s not much room to interpret — that anybody who is going to vote against and campaign against continued membership of the European Union would have to leave government,” he told the broadcaster.
Davis said this was “something of a change from what was presumed right up to the election (last month) and, in my view, a rather unwise change.”
Since his re- election l ast month Cameron has pressed ahead on securing reforms, undertaking a whirlwind tour of European capitals to seek support for changes such as making it harder for EU migrants to claim benefits in Britain.