Britain to vote on whether to remain in EU in June

WANJURAH: Let leaders’ be, their pasts are glaring

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday he would hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union on June 23.

“I will go to parliament and propose that the British people decide our future in Europe through an in-out referendum on Thursday, the 23rd of June,” he said.

“My recommendation is clear. I believe that Britain will be safer and stronger and better off in a reformed European Union.”

Cameron, speaking outside his Number 10 Downing Street residence, clinched a deal with other European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels which he hopes will keep the country in the bloc that Britain joined in 1973.

He met his cabinet on Saturday morning which agreed that the government’s position would be to recommend that Britain remains in the EU.

“Let me be clear. Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security. Those who want to leave Europe cannot tell you if British businesses will be able to access Europe’s free trade single market, or if working people’s jobs are safe, or how much prices would rise. All they’re offering is a risk at a time of uncertainty, a leap in the dark,” he said.

Cameron hailed a deal clinched with other European Union leaders as granting Britain special status and said he would campaign hard to convince voters to stay in the EU.

“Our plan for Europe gives us the best of both worlds. It underlines our special status, through which families across Britain get all the benefits of being in the European Union including more jobs, lower prices, and greater security. But our special status also means we are out of those parts of Europe that do not work for us. So we will never join the euro, we will never be part of euro zone bailouts, never be part of the passport-free, no borders area, or an European army, or an EU super state,” Cameron said.

The legally-binding agreement reached in Brussels late on Friday (February 19) granted Britain an explicit exemption from the founding goal of “ever closer union”, offered concessions on the welfare rights of migrant workers and safeguards for the City of London.

A British exit from the EU would rock the Union – already shaken by differences over migration and the future of the euro zone – by ripping away its second-largest economy, one of its top two military powers and by far its richest financial centre.

Pro-Europeans warn an exit could also trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote. The $2.9 trillion British economy would face years of uncertain negotiations over the terms of a divorce.

Opponents of EU membership say Britain would prosper outside what they say is a doomed Germany-dominated bloc that punches way below its weight on the world stage.

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