Sunday

4th Dec 2016

Cameron: British EU exit is 'imaginable'

  • Cameron in Westminster - UK exit from the EU is "imaginable" (Photo: parliament.uk)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has conceded that withdrawal from the EU is "imaginable," in the latest indication that the Conservative leader is preparing the ground for a radical change in the country's EU status.

During a statement in the House of Commons on Monday (17 December) on last week's EU summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister said: "Clearly all futures for Britain are imaginable. We are in charge of our own destiny, we can make our own choices. I believe the choice we should make is to stay in the European Union, to be members of the single market, to maximise our impact in Europe."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Although he commented that leaving the EU was "not a position I support," he added that "where we are unhappy with parts of the relationship we shouldn’t be frightened of standing up and saying so."

Cameron's remarks do not change his own stance, but they mark the first time that a UK Prime Minister has openly conceded the prospect of life outside the EU.

London Mayor Boris Johnson also recently commented that leaving the EU would "not be the end of the world," while education secretary Michael Gove and work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith are among a handful of cabinet ministers believed to be supportive of EU withdrawal

The Conservative leader is expected to outline his thinking on the UK's membership in a highly anticipated speech that has been delayed since autumn and is now expected in January.

Although he again ruled out the prospect of an "in/out' referendum in his Commons statement, Cameron is expected to unveil plans to claim exemptions from EU employment and social policy and safeguards for the City of London, followed by a referendum on the new EU terms.

At his post-summit press briefing last Friday (14 December) he told reporters that the prospect of deeper integration of the EU countries in the eurozone also offers the UK an opportunity to re-write the terms of its own membership.

In addition to its opt-out from the euro and the Schengen passport-free area, the UK indicated its intention to opt out of EU policy on justice and home affairs in October.

However, renegotiation of the UK's membership would require the agreement of the 26 other EU countries.

For his part, French President Francois Hollande vowed to oppose any repatriation of powers, commenting that "when a country commits it is for life." He also dismissed the idea of "a Europe a la carte."

The Conservative leader is under intense pressure from his own party to call a referendum on Europe.

Surveys carried out by the ConservativeHome website, popular among thousands of party activists, indicate that a majority of Conservative supporters would vote for UK withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are becoming more and more concerned about a surge in support for the UK independence party, which finished second to Labour in two parliamentary by-elections in November.

Although the anti-EU party has never won a seat in the House of Commons, recent opinion polls have Nigel Farage's party set to claim over 10 percent of a future vote, with the biggest chunk of its support base coming from ex-Conservative voters.

Austrians ponder shift to far right

Austrian voters will on Sunday decide whether to stay in the EU centre, or lurch to the radical right, with Hofer slightly ahead in polls ahead of the presidential election.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security