David Cameron speech: UK and the EU

Key points

  • David Cameron promises a referendum on EU membership in the first half of the next parliament
  • In a speech, he argues that the British people's consent for the EU is "wafer thin"
  • Deputy PM Nick Clegg says the referendum promise will "hit growth and jobs"
  • At PMQs, Mr Cameron says he will campaign to stay in the EU if membership renegotiation aims are met
  • Labour says the speech shows Mr Cameron is "weak"
  • UKIP leader Nigel Farage says the referendum should happen before the 2015 election

Live text


  • Samantha Dalton 
  • Justin Parkinson 
  • Kayte Rath 

Last updated 23 January 2013


Hello and welcome to our live coverage of David Cameron's speech on the future of the UK and the European Union. The prime minister will begin speaking shortly after 08:00 GMT. He is expected to outline plans which could lead to a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU, but this would be contingent on the Conservative Party winning the next general election. His words will be keenly listened to across Europe.


According to pre-released extracts of the speech, a Conservative government would, after the 2015 general election, negotiate a "new settlement" with Brussels. After any deal was reached, the public would be presented with a "very simple in-or-out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms, or come out altogether".


Labour leader Ed Miliband has predicted the speech will show Mr Cameron to be a "weak" leader, "being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest".


If this referendum happens, it will be the public's first such vote on Europe since 1975.


What have former PMs had to say about Europe? Here's a selection of their comments.


Jeremy Vine and William Hague

Speaking on Sunday to the BBC's Jeremy Vine, Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was a "strong case" for the public to decide the UK's future relationship with Europe, He added: "We need to see how changes in the eurozone are affecting the EU and how that affects this country and the relationship of the countries together."


Shadow business secretary Douglas Alexander tells BBC Breakfast it "doesn't make sense" to renegotiate the UK's position in Europe. He says: "We [Labour] understand the need for change but I don't honestly believe the best way to get change in a club of 27 is to stand at the exit door demanding change or threatening to leave."


UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who wants to see the UK leave the EU, says the majority of British people support his party's position. He says: "If Mr Cameron was really serious about renegotiation then what he would do is he would invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is the only mechanism that exists with the treaties to take powers back."

TWEET 0807

Patrick O'Flynn, Chief Political Commentator, Daily Express

tweets: My suspicion is that having got the referendum line on front pages, Cam will spend most of this speech stressing his support for membership.