Britain to hold historic EU referendum on June 23

Britain to hold historic EU referendum on June 23

 Britain will hold a historic referendum on whether to stay in the European Union on June 23, Prime Minister David Cameron announced today even as he warned that leaving the 28-nation bloc would be a "leap in the dark".


Making the announcement outside his 10 Downing Street residence after briefing the cabinet on the EU reform deal he struck in Brussels yesterday, Cameron said, "The vote would be one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes."

He said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed bloc as the UK would be "safer and stronger" if it remained in the EU.


"The choice is in your hands - but my recommendation is clear. I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off by remaining in a reformed European Union," Cameron said in his direct appeal to the British public.

The Prime Minister warned that leaving the EU would be a "leap in the dark" as he appealed to voters to back his reform deal.

"Those who want to leave Europe cannot tell you if British businesses would 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, who spent the last few days thrashing out new terms for Britain's membership of the EU, has given his Cabinet and MPs a free vote on the issue.

He said if Britons decided to remain in the EU, he would seek continued reforms to address their concerns about job losses and benefit payments to EU migrants seeking work in Britain.
"I do not love Brussels, I love Britain...the question is - will be we safer, stronger and better off working together in a reformed Europe or out on our own?" he said, emphasising that Britain can have "the best of both worlds" if it remains in the EU under the reform deal he with EU leaders.

His comments came as clear lines began to be drawn within the Cabinet along the "Leave" or "Remain" campaign for the EU.

A string of ministers have come out in favour of remaining - but others will campaign against Cameron.

Priti Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin member of the Cabinet, came out openly in favour of leaving the EU.

The UK employment minister and Cameron's Indian Diaspora Champion joins other senior colleagues like UK justice secretary Michael Gove and Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers.

Most other ministers will campaign to remain, including UK business secretary Sajid Javid, international development secretary Justine Greening and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Both groups get a 600,000 pounds campaigning grant, campaign broadcasts, free mailshots and a spending limit of seven million pounds to lay out their case.

The UK's Election Commission will take charge of the referendum planning as soon as the date is officially cleared by the parliament, where it is expected to sail through with a majority.

Cameron on Monday will address the parliament.
Key to the deal with the EU were agreements over welfare payments to migrants, Britain's right to opt-out of the eurozone, and a promise the UK would have stronger sovereign control over laws made in Brussels.

It came after behind-the-scenes talks which stretched from Thursday night and most of Friday, as Cameron and European Council president Donald Tusk struggled to get all the members to agree to Britain's demands.

At a press conference shortly after the deal was done in Brussels, Cameron had said: "In the last hour, I have negotiated a deal to give the United Kingdom special status inside the European Union. This deal has delivered on the commitments I made at the start of this process."

"Britain will be permanently out of ever-closer union, never part of a European super-state, there will be tough new restrictions to our welfare system for EU migrants - no more something for nothing - Britain will never join the euro and we've secured vital protections for our economy."

"I believe that this is enough for me to recommend that the UK stays in the European Union, having the best of both worlds," he said.

The changes include a so-called seven-year "emergency brake", allowing the UK to reduce in-work benefits for EU migrants.

But the brake will be a single-use instrument, which once pulled will last for seven years and then can't be pulled again.

Eurosceptics, including many within Cameron's Conservative Party, dismissed the package as mild and said only withdrawal could restore sufficient powers to the country from Brussels.

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