I’ll get tough in EU negotiations: David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed Wednesday to get tough in European Union negotiations, crack down on extremism, make Britain a more equal country — and then resign.
In a speech to the governing Conservative Party’s annual conference, Cameron said he would create a “Greater Britain” before leaving office before the 2020 national election.
The road may not be entirely smooth: Cameron leads a party that’s euphoric after an unexpected election victory, bitterly divided over whether the UK’s future lies inside or out of the European Union.
Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on membership of the 28-nation bloc by the end of 2017, and argues that the UK should stay in as long as he can negotiate looser ties. But many in his party are skeptical of the benefits of membership, and the hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing to and through the EU this year have boosted the “exit” side of the Brexit debate.
Cameron assured delegates in Manchester, northern England, that he had “no sentimental attachment” to the European Union and was “only interested in two things: Britain’s prosperity and influence.”
“That’s why I’m going to fight hard in this renegotiation — so we can get a better deal and the best of both worlds,” he said.
In May, Cameron’s party defied poll predictions by winning a majority of House of Commons seats, making him the first head of an allConservative government in almost two decades.
The party’s poll ratings have surged further since the main
Britain’s opposition Labour Party elected previously obscure far-left Jeremy Corbyn as leader last month.
Cameron, who turns 49 on Friday, accused Corbyn of having a “Britain-hating ideology,” and aimed to win over Labour centrists with a vision of “one-nation” Conservatism, both patriotic and progressive.
He said the Conservatives were “the party of the fair chance,” and would do more to build new homes, reduce poverty, rehabilitate prisoners and remove discrimination that holds back women, gays and lesbians, ethnic minorities and disabled people.
“You can’t have true opportunity without real equality,” he said.
He also said the government would end “passive tolerance” of extremist ideas and introduce inspections for institutions that offer children religious education, including Christian Sunday schools, Jewish yeshivas and Muslim madrassas.
“If you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down,” he said
The Conservative conference has given a platform to Cameron’s potential successors, including Chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister, George Osborne, Home Secretary Theresa May and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
British Prime Minister David Cameron makes his keynote speech at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Wednesday, Oct. 7.