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

    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."

    0759: Laura Sandys, Conservative MP for South Thanet

    tweets: Really interesting assessment by @TimMontgomerie on the longer term impact of The Speech. #glasshalffull http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/


    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."

    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.


    David Cameron is being introduced at Bloomberg's European office in central London. We are poised to bring you all the updates.

    0808: Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: Waiting for the PM's Europe speech. Am told it will not set out in any detail the powers he wants to get back from Europe.


    The PM begins by talking about the history of the formation for the EU, and how it, and its predecessor the European Economic Community, helped "heal" a fractured Europe.


    Mr Cameron says a "new global race of nations is under way in a race for the jobs and wealth of the future".


    On Britain, the PM says: "We have the character of an island nation... passionate in defence of our sovereignty."


    On Britain, Mr Cameron adds: "Ours is not just an island story; it is a continental story... We have always been a European power and always will be".

    David Cameron The PM addresses the assembled business leaders and journalists
    0814: Lisa Edington, London

    writes: It's us, the public, that vote who we want to lead us in government and we would hope that they will give us a chance to now vote on a very important decision that we never voted for in the first place! I would think the majority of the British public will vote to leave the EU as we need radical changes for the sake of our own people!


    Mr Cameron says: "The crucial point about Britain is that Britain is characterised by not just its independence but by its openness." He adds: "We will not pull up the drawbridge add retreat from the world. I want a better deal for Britain and a better deal for Europe too."


    Mr Cameron outlines his position: "I want the European Union to be a success and I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it."


    The PM states that the UK will not join the single European currency and therefore not become part of the eurozone.

    0818: Mike Cameron, Bristol

    writes: The PM's strategy is in principle the right thing to do, but practically we will alienate the UK within the EU business sector.

    0818: Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    "David Cameron explaining why Britain has such a different approach to the EU from other countries. The British frame of mind is more practical than emotional but not un European. In Europe it is often said the British are indifferent to the cause of closer integration."


    The PM says: "People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent."


    In a section of the speech released to the press, the PM says change is necessary. "More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same - less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs."


    Mr Cameron is outlining his vision for the future of the EU. He says it'll be built on five key principles.


    The first of Mr Cameron's principles is competitiveness. He tells his audience he wants to see a "a leaner, less bureaucratic union" with fewer departments.


    The second of Mr Cameron's principles is flexibility: "The EU must be able to act with the speed and flexibility of a network, not the cumbersome rigidity of a bloc."

    0825: Duncan French, Sheffield

    texts: "An in/out EU referendum what populist clap-trap! We've now destroyed our reputation (and influence) as good citizens willing to negotiate in good faith (which includes compromising sometimes) and acted like the petulant schoolyard bully!" Send your texts to 61124


    On flexibility, the PM is calling for a rethink of the EU structure, saying: "We are a family of democratic nations... whose essential foundation is the single market rather than the single currency. Those of us outside the euro recognise that those in it are likely to need to make some big institutional changes."

    0827: Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    "David Cameron questioning whether the EU, with its structures and institutions, it is fit for purpose. He is appealing for a leaner, more efficient EU."

    0827: Mark Garnier, Conservative MP for Wyre Forest

    tweets: Already clear what Labour's position is: British people should not be allowed a voice.

    0828: Matthew Price Europe correspondent

    "The European Commission won't like being singled out again by Cameron. He essentially said it shouldn't get any more power or influence."

    0829: Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central

    tweets: "What powers do Tories want back from EU? Right to abolish paid holidays and rights for working people. To lead UK in a race to the bottom."


    Mr Cameron's third principle concerns the flow of power between EU member states. He says: "Countries are different. They make different choices. We cannot harmonise everything."

    0830: Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor, Daily Mail

    tweets: Cameron denounces calls for 'ever closer union', which is founding principle of EU in the Treaty of Rome. Sceptics will love that


    The fourth principle the PM outlines is "democratic accountability". He says: "It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU."


    Mr Cameron says democratic consent for the EU in Britain "is now wafer thin". He adds: "Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put... it is much more likely that the British people will reject the EU."


    The PM's fifth principle is fairness. He says: "So it is a vital interest for us to protect the integrity and fairness of the single market for all its members."


    Cameron says he will not call a snap referendum: "It is wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right."

    0837: Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News

    Our correspondent tweets: The PM argues in effect that resisting a referendum will play into UKIP's hands #thespeech


    On a referendum, the PM insists: "We need to allow some time for that to happen - and help to shape the future of the European Union, so that when the choice comes it will be a real one."

    0839: Neil Smith, Stirling

    writes: We are in the EU, we will always be in the EU. It is our largest trading partner, it will always be our largest trading partner. If we leave the EU institutions we will be in the same position as Norway and Switzerland of being governed by EU regulations, of making payments to the EU, without representation within the EU.

    0840: Antony Martin, formerly of Weybridge, Surrey

    writes: The sad thing about Mr Cameron's pledge to have an in / out referendum is that it will come (re-election permitted) many years too late. Had the British people been given more chance to have its say before now, I doubt that Europe would have ended up in its present mess.


    The PM insists: "It is time for us to settle this question about Europe."


    Mr Cameron says. "When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in-or-out choice. To stay in the EU on these new terms; or come out altogether."


    The PM adds: "I say to the British people: this will be your decision."


    Responding perhaps to criticism from Labour, the PM says: "We will have to weigh carefully where our true national interest lies." He adds: "We have more power and influence - whether implementing sanctions against Iran or Syria, or promoting democracy in Burma - if we can act together."


    Back to his earlier transport analogies, the PM says: "If we left the European Union, it would be a one-way ticket, not a return."

    0844: Paul Waugh, Editor of Politics Home

    tweets: V notable that Cam not ruling out EU exit, just pointing out need to 'weigh up very carefully' the consequences.

    0844: Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Challenge for Labour and Libdems is whether to allow David Cameron to be the only major party leader to offer a say on the EU at election

    0845: Matthew Price Europe correspondent

    "That pledge to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU on a unilateral basis (if there's no full EU treaty change) won't work as far as Brussels is concerned. It's being made clear here that allowing one country to change the rules on a unilateral basis is a non-starter."


    "It is hard to argue that the EU would not be greatly diminished by Britain's departure," the PM says.


    The PM concludes his speech: "Over the coming weeks, months and years, I will not rest until this debate is won. For the future of my country. For the success of the European Union. And for the prosperity of our peoples for generations to come."

    0847: Paul Mason, Economics Editor, Newsnight

    tweets: Of all Cameron claims, the "no European demos" is biggest; implies legitimacy of EU polity derives only from nation states.


    Answering questions from the audience, Mr Cameron says: "There's been a big change in Europe. Are politicians in Britain going to stick our head in the sand? This is an active, forward-leading plan that is good for the British people."

    0849: Jane Merrick, Political Editor, Independent on Sunday

    tweets: "I will campaign for it with all my heart and my soul" not woolly at all, then!

    0850: Guido Fawkes, Order-Order.com

    tweets: UKIP should view this speech as a step towards ultimate success.


    Asked whether Britain will be able to renegotiate its European position, the PM says: "I am am an optimist not a pessimist... We've had three treaty changes posed in past three and half years... the UK has already demonstrated we are able to repatriate powers around coming out of the euro bail-out fund."

    0851: Benedict Brogan, Deputy Editor, The Daily Telegraph

    tweets: Strong. Simple. Clear. Risky. Dave fights to save Europe. This speech changes the game. Prospects for 2015 suddenly look promising


    Some twitter reaction from Tory MPs listening to the PM's speech. Therese Coffey says: "Good speech. Clear vision. Other EU states will like it. Before 2015, draft legislation ready for referendum & in our manifesto." Douglas Carswell says: "From today the EU question no longer hinges on what Tory MPs think. It's about what the people will decide in in/out vote. Historic day."

    0856: Kiran Stacey, Politics Correspondent, The Financial Times

    tweets: Cameron: If I'm prime minister, the referendum will happen. Does that mean it will be a red line in any coalition negotiations?

    0857: Matthew Price Europe correspondent

    "What will be welcomed here is Cameron's talk of Britain's national interest being served by being in the EU. But his talk of a new settlement with the EU is not going to be popular."

    0857: Sam Macrory, Political Editor, The House Magazine

    tweets: It's going to be a busy morning in the Miliband office. Twitter suggests Tories are enthused by Cameron's speech. Will be buoyant for #PMQs


    Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs, reacts to Mr Cameron's speech by saying: "I now call on fellow Conservatives to get behind this vision, to support the PM's strategy and to meet the challenge of helping the EU become a more flexible and friendly place for Britain."


    Dutch journalist Stefan de Vries tweets: "Cameron wants referendum on #Brexit [British exit]. Let's organise a European referendum the same day on UK's place in Europe." He adds: "Kudos to #Cameron for finally being clear: 'It will be an in-out referendum.' But if it's in, stop whining forever."

    0901: Fraser Nelson, Editor, The Spectator

    tweets: Big news of speech came after, in Q&A: that Cameron would hold a referendum even if he's in coalition. "If I'm PM this will happen."


    Some Lib Dem reaction. The party's former leader Lord Ashdown says: "Mr Cameron has effectively told us that it is his intention to put Britain on a one-way street to leaving Europe."

    0903: Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary

    tweets: Cameron simply couldn't answer Nick Robinson's question...the Prime Minister cannot tell us what he'd recommend to the British people.

    0904: Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    Our political correspondent says: "This was a straight promise of an in/out referendum... a speech many Eurosceptics will have dreamed of... a speech that is likely to shape his political legacy."

    0905: Dr Liam Fox, Conservative MP for North Somerset

    tweets: Delighted by commitment to seek end of 'ever closer union' and now the country WILL have a say under a future Conservative government.

    Matthew Price Europe correspondent

    "A Czech MEP who's part of the same party grouping as David Cameron's Conservatives tells me he liked the speech. He adds there should be provision for power to be repatriated to the nations."


    UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweets: "If it was a simple In/Out referendum we could hold it before the next general election. If he promised that I'd have cheered."

    0907: Gavin Hewitt, Europe Editor, BBC News

    tweets: French Foreign Minister reacting to Cameron speech: no 'Europe a la carte in which a country picks what rules applies to it.' #Cameron


    Writer Robozombies tweets: "I would like to see any in-out referendum also have a 'shake it all about' option #cameron#thespeech"

    0910: Mark Ferguson, Editor of Labour List

    tweets: Liam Fox just arrived in the 5live studio. He's got a huge smile on his face


    Labour peer and former EU trade commissioner Lord Mandelson tells the BBC: "We have had a rather schizophrenic speech. On the one hand he says he wants a new and improved Europe; on the other hand he is saying Britain's membership of the EU is a blank sheet of paper that has to be completely renegotiated. It is not an approach that will find a positive response from our partners in Europe."

    0913: Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: If Labour keeps conditional position on EU ref, it will attract support of big multinational businesses, for better or worse


    Lord Mandelson adds: "They [our European partners] do not regard the EU as a cafeteria service where you bring your own tray and leave with what you want."


    Ian Traynor, Europe editor of the Guardian, tweets: #cameron has there ever been such a big speech with so many hypotheticals?

    0914: Patrick O'Flynn, Chief Political Commentator, Daily Express

    tweets: Verdict; the PM has committed to In/Out ref but not to which side he will be on. Let's not pretend this isn't a massive political event.

    0915: Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar

    tweets: Cameron promises an EU renegotiation he can't deliver and an exit referendum he will campaign against. Not sure UKIP will now go away.

    0916: Matthew Price Europe correspondent

    "Overall this was a pro-European speech and for that it will be welcomed. Yet David Cameron is talking about Britain remaining a central part of an EU refashioned according to what Britain's Conservative party wants. And many in Brussels and beyond will have a problem with that."

    0918: Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    interviews Richard Ashworth MEP. Mr Ashworth says: "The PM had a very positive message for EU. He outlined our desire to remain right at the heart of Europe, but not at any price."

    0919: Toby Young

    blogging for The Daily Telegraph writes: "If Ed Miliband reverses his position - which he may well do - eurosceptics will have a good reason to vote Conservative at the next election. Some people will still vote UKIP, of course, not least because UKIP's commitment to withdrawing from the EU isn't the only reason it attracts support. But I'd be amazed if this doesn't see large number of UKIP supporters return to the Conservative fold."


    Conservative MP Mark Pritchard tells the BBC: "David Cameron is first British PM in nearly four decades to offer the British people a referendum on Europe. I am not an anti-European... the challenge is whether Europe will also us to repatriate and renegotiate power back."


    Conservative MP Robert Buckland tells the BBC: "Cameron outlined his clear and passionate commitment to Britain's continued membership of EU... the British PM and mainstream parties are all committed to our membership of the EU, but now the people will have their say."

    0924: Peter Cook, Bristol

    Comments: Why is it that none of your Conservative MPs (including the PM) are willing to say that they would vote for EU exit if we don't get what we want. A poker bluff only works if your opponents know you are willing to put your money where your mouth is - it seems that Cameron isn't.


    Reaction from Poland to the PM's speech. The website of daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita says Mr Cameron wants "to strip" Brussels of some of its powers. It adds: "The Conservatives say that Brussels has too much say in some matters, which does a lot of harm."

    0926: Tom

    Comments: Britain needs certainty to get out of this crisis. Promising an in/out referendum on the EU membership will do nothing but deter foreign investors and destabilize any attempts to increase domestic investment.


    Francois Beaudonnet, France 2 TV correspondent in Brussels, tweets in French: "Heard this in the corridors of the European Parliament - 'The British have sabotaged European construction and now they are abandoning us'."


    Thomas Mayer, Europe editor at Austrian daily Der Standard, tweets in German: "After #Cameron speech and #elysee celebrations it is clear that Europe needs German-French axis more than ever, UK cannot be relied upon, Tories have drifted off."

    0930: Lord Ashcroft

    blogging on Conservative Home writes: Tories must remember that we can only get what we want once we win an election. The more we talk about changing our relationship with Europe, the less likely it is to happen.

    0930: Jackie, Lincolnshire

    Comments: His timescales are unrealistic - he hasn't listened to public will and demands. UKIP will now drive the agenda and Labour will have little choice but to develop the strategy and approach for a 2015 referendum and demonstrate that they commit to a referendum asap.


    Paul Schmidt, director of the independent body the Austrian Society for European Policy, tweets in German: "Cameron announces EU vote for post 2015 - risky domestic political game! Does he really strengthen his EU negotiating position this way?"


    Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, says in a statement: "It is absolutely right that the PM should be seeking a better relationship with the European Union for the UK. When they see how the EU institutions spend our cash, it's little wonder that the British people are crying out for fundamental change, not just tinkering at the edges."

    0934: Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North

    tweets: One email response from a constituent to PM's speech so far "Brilliant. Just how I feel. Well done"

    0935: Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough

    tweets: I was sacked as PPS for advocating an In/out EU referendum in 2011 but it's now official party policy. That's politics folks. #Countryfirst

    0937: Nick Robinson Political editor

    ‏tweets: "The PM's speech on reforming Europe could have been made without a referendum promise. It is the promise it will be remembered for."


    The often outspoken Conservative MP Peter Bone reacts to the speech, saying: "Well done to the prime minister. We will now get an in/out referendum. He has listened to his MPs, his party and most importantly, the country. He is putting Britain first. Mrs Bone is singing in the bath - always a good sign!"


    Former Tory Chancellor Lord Lamont tells the BBC people will be given a "real choice" on Europe, should the Conservatives win the next election. He adds: "The important question is, will it appeal to the heads of governments in other European countries? It would be a huge mistake on their part to just act against this, as it would push Britain towards the exit."

    0942: Jamie Richardson, Leeds

    emails: I agree that this is the right thing to do as so many people have been calling for it for so many years. However, I think that us leaving the EU would destabilise the economy even more and would force us into political and economic obscurity.


    Lord Lamont adds: "David Cameron is obviously really genuine about renegotiation of our position. He made a powerful case and it deserves to be listened to and treated sympathetically."

    0943: Colin, Guildford

    emails: This is clever as it gives Cameron more leverage when negotiating with the rest of Europe for a better deal. However it could come back to bite him in the end. The truth is this country would be much worse off out of Europe but most of the British public don't understand why. If Cameron is serious about the referendum he needs to make sure the British people have all the facts and understand the economic and diplomatic impact of voting no.

    0944: Richard Halford, Bristol

    emails: If a vote happens, can I ask all the political parties to produce a poster outlining the top five pros and cons of being in or out, to give the voters half a chance of making an informed choice? I'm not sure which way I'd vote and I doubt I am alone in that.


    Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander describes the PM's speech as "empty".

    0947: Rafael Behr, Political Editor, New Statesman

    tweets: And once again Labour party looks at its leader and sees Gareth Southgate approaching the penalty spot in Euro semi-final.


    Douglas Alexander tells the BBC: "We all expected some red lines. We all expected him to say this is where I stand. He didn't actually set out that position. Instead he tried to somehow position himself as the referee rather than what I believe himself to be, a victim of the Conservative Party."

    0949: Robert Hutton, Bloomberg

    tweets: Pound hit a five month low against the dollar during Cameron's Europe speech.

    0950: Andrea Harrison, Bath

    emails: Good speech David. It confirms my view that we should be in a common market and not the EU. Now is the time to get out of the EU and concentrate on building a strong, common, and world wide market.


    Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander adds: "Of course we need to see change across Europe. Of course there is an agenda for reform that we as the Labour Party would like to see. But the idea that you put a gun to the head of your European partners, that you stand in the departure lounge shouting at 26 other members of the EU as a way to get those changes, doesn't make sense to me."

    0952: Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay

    tweets: Cam catching up on need for EU poll but putting off till after the election all about papering over the cracks in his party, not UK interests


    Steve Evans, the BBC's correspondent in Berlin, says no formal reaction has yet been issued by the German government. He adds, however, that he hasn't detected anyone who has welcomed the PM's sentiments yet, saying: "I do detect quite a lot of scepticism and unease and perhaps even a little exasperation."

    0957: Conservative MP Andrew Percy

    tweets: Looks like us 81 Tory 'rebels' who voted for a ref on the EU are more in line with party policy on Europe than those who voted against!


    Reacting to the PM's speech, John Cridland, director general of business group the CBI, says: "The EU single market is fundamental to Britain's future economic success, but the closer union of the eurozone is not for us. The PM rightly recognises the benefits of retaining membership of what must be a reformed EU and the CBI will work closely with government to get the best deal for Britain."

    0958: Mat, Bexhill-on-Sea

    emails: A cynical ploy to wrong-foot his opponents. He can promise anything he wants because he might not be PM in the next term.

    0959: Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor, Daily Mail

    tweets: Cameron is in awkward position on Europe, but maybe the least awkward he could contrive. Miliband is in the most awkward he could contrive


    Mats Persson, the director of independent think-tank Open Europe which calls for EU reform, cautiously welcomes the PM's speech, saying: "European partners who feared an imminent dawn raid on Brussels will be relieved. He has set out a plausible and powerful case for EU reform. For this, he should get a fair hearing in national capitals."

    1002: Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East

    tweets: When I wrote book on #Coalition, I did not anticipate a #Tory differentiation strategy in Government half way through! Not without danger

    David Cameron

    A quick recap of some of Prime Minister David Cameron's speech. He said: "This debate is happening now. This change in Europe is happening now. The question is are politicians in Britain going to stick their head in the sand and just let this debate happen or are we going to get out there, lead it, shape it and win for Britain in our national interest?"


    In a speech that was more than six months in the writing and is likely to shape Mr Cameron's legacy, he said: "I think there's an understanding [in Europe] that change is required, there's an understanding that Britain is arguing for a more open, flexible, competitive Europe... Obviously there will be some tough debates and some tough negotiations to come."


    Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox says Mr Cameron's speech was "hugely significant". He adds: "I think it's right for Britain, incidentally. I think it would be right for Europe, as the prime minister himself said today, and it does throw down the gauntlet domestically to the other parties now."


    Mayor of London Boris Johnson says, in his usual emphatic style: "David Cameron is bang on. What most sensible people want is to belong to the single market but to lop off the irritating excrescences of the European Union. We now have a chance to get a great new deal for Britain - that will put the UK at the heart of European trade but that will also allow us to think globally."


    Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell brands the speech "more about UKIP" than about the UK. He adds: "The prime minister's efforts to reconcile his own position with that of his Eurosceptic backbenchers leads logically to the position that if he could not get what he wanted out of Europe, he would be willing for the UK to leave."

    John Fee, Belfast

    emails: Cameron is talking like a 19th cent politician in control of an Empire. One can only hope that when the time comes the British people will vote to stay in.


    Tory MP Bernard Jenkin tells the BBC: "I thought the most profound thing in the speech was his determination we should be released from the obligation to pursue ever-closer union... Will the other member states want us signed up these treaties if we resile from ever-closer union, or do we need to define a new treaty which defines the relationship between us and our European partners."


    How do you win a referendum? BBC political reporter Brian Wheeler published this handy guide last summer.


    UKIP leader Nigel Farage says it is "very good news" that the "whole flavour" of debate over Europe has changed. But he adds that his party's "real work has just begun".


    Nigel Farage says waiting five years for a referendum will mean another £70bn of taxpayers' money going to the EU.

    1040: Wayne, Derby

    The promise of an in/out vote will ensure a Conservative win at the next election. I'm a lifelong Labour voter and member. Although I could never vote Conservative I will not campaign or vote as I usually would. Labour need to get behind this.


    Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, describes Mr Cameron's approach as "realistic and pragmatic". He adds: "A future referendum to decide the workings of our relationship is the best way to affirm Britain's participation in a free-market Europe which is competitive and deregulated."

    1044: Alan Pratt, Wallsend, North Tyneside

    emails: The UK should have been given a choice about Europe going right back to the time of John Major.


    Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, tells the BBC foreign ministers around Europe believe David Cameron's speech has created anxiety and instability. He adds that the PM is playing "a dangerous game which will be disastrous for British trade and the British economy."


    Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff, a leading expert on EU institutions and a Euro-federalist, says in a statement that a British referendum on Europe is "hardly a surprise", adding several countries are likely to vote on their membership of the union following the constitutional convention in 2015.


    Lib Dem Andrew Duff adds: "Mr Cameron will now have to learn how the European Union works. In particular, if he wants to recast existing EU laws he needs to win the support of MEPs. So far his attitude to the European Parliament has been marked more by contempt than by respect."

    1055: Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    says the PM has made a pitch for a "much looser, more flexible EU. He adds: "Many European officials will say that he is proposing Europe a la carte, a cherry-picking union."

    1055: Bob, Guildford

    emails: What he says is what everyone has wanted in theory. Work with Europe to redefine Europe. I hope he can convince fellow Europeans to work with the UK on this.


    Former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini tweets: "#United Kingdom is an indissoluble part of the European Integration Process. I wish London will decide to remain in Europe. #Cameron."


    The BBC's business team has gathered reaction from business leaders both home and in Europe. Opinions are unsurprisingly split. Among them, David Sproul, the UK boss of accountancy firm Deloitte, says: "The Europe debate does not help to create certainty."

    1103: Marcus Paine, Amersham

    emails: Cameron at his best: honest, open and speaking with conviction directly to the British people.


    German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle says he wants the UK to "remain an active and constructive part" of the EU but warns "cherry-picking [on policy] is not an option."

    1107: Kristofer Du Rietz, Onsala, Sweden

    emails: How is the PM going to keep and expand the single market while at the same time asking for more flexibility, more multi-speed Europe and the breaking of the European institutions? It doesn't make any sense logically, politically and practically.


    Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond says the PM is "fundamentally confused" over Europe. Mr Salmond said that Mr Cameron was trying simultaneously to appease eurosceptics in his party and to depict himself as a reformer with the interests of the EU at heart.

    1111: Glenn, Blackburn

    emails: We are not just separated from continental Europe by water alone, we are also distinct from each other by language and culture and mindsets. Integration of businesses in Europe should not mean integration of cultural lifestyles or the disassembly of sovereignties. Business has no place in determining politics.


    Fomer Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell, speaking from Westminster ahead of PMQs, says David Cameron's speech issued a "give us back our power or we'll leave" ultimatum to EU leaders, to which he believes they will not respond well.


    In just over three-quarters of an hour, David Cameron will face MPs at Prime Minister's Questions. What will be the main issue discussed? Hmmm. Apart from Europe, there is good news for the government on jobless figures, down to an 18-month low. What will Labour leader Ed Miliband ask? Expect the PM to get a rousing reception from the Eurosceptics on his back benches.

    1118: Elaine Dark, Devizes

    emails: Why put off tomorrow what you can do today?! Holding a referendum in 2015 is evidence of further procrastination by this out-of-touch and weak government worried by the rise in UKIP voters. Strong and decisive leadership is required NOW not in two years' time!


    Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox tells BBC News the relationship between Europe and the UK needs to be determined by the British people. He adds: "The PM has set out a very different vision for Europe today that is much more open and forward looking."

    1123: Martin, Hampton

    emails: In the past I have voted Labour, however I feel this is one of the most important issues facing the UK at the moment. It was outrageous that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown reneged on their promise to hold a referendum before signing the Lisbon treaty when they realised the public would vote no. I'll vote for David Cameron to have another chance at the next election.


    David Cameron is "playing with fire" if he intends to "hold the EU to ransom", according to former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt. He claims the speech was "full of inconsistencies, displaying a degree of ignorance about how the EU works".

    1127: Graham Wood, Manchester

    emails: Look, at least it is now on the table and an open and detailed discussion can now be had rather than comments from the sidelines.


    In Brussels, Martin Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament and a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, rebuffs Cameron's criticism of the EU. He tells German public radio station Deutschlandfunk that reforms necessary to make the EU more effective, more transparent and leaner have failed in part because Britain blocked them.


    Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg earlier made it clear he did not support his coalition partner's Euro-view. He said: "The overwhelming priority of the British people is jobs, is growth, is a strong economy... That is made all the more difficult if you have years and years of uncertainty because of an ill-defined and protracted renegotiation of Britain's status within the European Union."

    1136: Olivia Page, Manchester

    emails: David Cameron gives a very limited portrayal of the relationship between the EU and the UK. He implies that the EU have too much legislative power which should be limited. However, the framework of the Union has protections embedded into it to prevent excessive action. These inherent protections are not included in Cameron's argument against the European Union and he therefore appears to be spoon-feeding the British population information in order to achieve the result he wants.

    1137: Nick Robinson Political editor

    blogs that David Cameron's EU speech was a "gamble" which "could mark a first step on a road leading to Britain's exit from Europe 45 years after we first joined".


    Robert Oulds, director of the eurosceptic Bruges Group, likens Mr Cameron's promise on EU change to "a cheque that takes ages to arrive and when you eventually receive it you find that it's post-dated." He adds: "It is no good until you can cash it in and receive the funds and until you do receive them you doubt its validity."

    1141: Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "Draft referendum legislation would have to be 'CCHQ-led' says Lib Dem source - ie done by party not civil servants."


    Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy there should have been a referendum on Europe 25 years ago to "lance this boil". He tells BBC Two's Daily Politics the PM's pledge is "as clear as mud".


    Be prepared for what is likely to be a lively PMQs in just under 15 minutes' time.


    Among the MPs on the shortlist to ask questions of David Cameron are ex-Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and left-wingers Dennis Skinner and Ian Lavery. Mark Pawsey is the first Tory on the order sheet.


    A full transcript, plus comment and analysis of key passages from David Cameron's Europe speech, and been prepared by the BBC political reporter Brian Wheeler and BBC Europe reporter Laurence Peter.


    The House of Commons is already quite full, as Northern Ireland Questions comes to a close.

    1156: David Mills, Milton Keynes

    emails: 'Britain will get EU Referendum' is based on the premise that David Cameron will win the next election, and even should he do so that he will keep and not break his pledge. We all know that Politicians make pledges before Elections and break pledges after Elections.


    David Cameron is not in place in the Commons yet, but Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague are. They look happy.


    Most Conservative MPs have welcomed their leader's five-principle plan for a new Europe. Richard Ottaway says the speech showed "real leadership", adding that "this is a man who's made up his mind, he's taken the country off in the right direction and in a direction which I think will be very much for the benefit of Britain".


    There is a huge roar and waving of papers on the Tory back benches, as David Cameron takes his Commons seat. Northern Ireland minister Mike Penning, speaking at the time, jokes: "I had no idea I was so popular."


    Labour leader Ed Miliband gets a cheer from his MPs as he enters the chamber.


    Prime Minister's Questions is under way.

    1203: Keith Purdy, Messingham, North Lincolnshire

    emails: It was a very good speech. I for one would like to remain in Europe. Business needs us to remain in Europe. I agree we need to pull back some of the decision making from Brussels. A common market is what we entered into and that is what it should be. Too many people do not understand all the complexity of debate that is needed so that we can make a choice yes or no in a referendum. We may have the right to vote but do we truly understand the implications?


    Ed Miliband gets to his feet and asks for a guarantee that the PM will campaign to "stay in" if there is an in-out EU referendum. He replies that he wants what is best for Britain.


    Mr Miliband asks if the PM will recommend leaving the EU if he does not renegotiate successfully with Brussels. Mr Cameron says he wants a "strong Britain in a reformed Europe". He asks if the Labour "has a clue what he would do". There is much yelling in the chamber.


    Mr Miliband asks again to "guarantee" that he would vote "yes" in a referendum. He replies he would vote "yes" if the UK's aims are met, saying he does not want to "fail" in negotiations.


    The Labour leader asks to name "just one thing" that would make him back leaving the EU, if not all the UK's aims are met in negotiations. Mr Cameron asks again what Mr Miliband wants.


    Mr Miliband says the PM is "frightened" of his backbench MPs. Mr Cameron says he wants a referendum, and asks if Mr Miliband does. He replies: "No. We don't want an in/out referendum." He says his position has not changed, but the MP's has.


    Commons Speaker John Bercow calls for calm after the whoops and shouts reach a deafening crescendo.


    The PM urges Labour to "go and get a policy" over Europe.


    After a brief discussion of world food shortages, Labour MP Jack Dromey drags the agenda back to Europe and asks the PM whether his speech will increase uncertainty among the business community.


    Tory James Duddridge asks the PM about today's announcement about a fall in unemployment. The PM says more women are employed in the UK than ever before but insists "there's a huge amount more to do".


    Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth congratulates the PM on his speech this morning, saying it showed "leadership". Talking about the European renegotiation and the single currency, Mr Cameron responds: "You either walk towards this choice... or stick your head in the sand like the party opposite."


    Labour's Louise Ellman claims the Tory policy of universal credit will push 200,000 more children into poverty. The PM argues that Labour does not have an alternative or effective child poverty policy.


    Former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw raises the issue of defence spending. He says the security risk facing the country is "much worse" than it was when defence spending was reviewed in 2010. He asks the PM whether there should be a rethink.


    The PM argues a smaller, regular army will be "better equipped and more mobile" and therefore better placed to deal with the threats of modern warfare.


    Bill Cash, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, brings the discussion back to Europe. Mr Cameron says: "There are changes we would like for a more open, fair and flexible Europe."


    Labour's Dennis Skinner brands Mr Cameron a "posh boy", as the decibel level rises once again in the House.


    Tory MP Eleanor Laing points out that a referendum on Europe will only happen if the Conservatives are able to form a government in 2015.


    Sir Menzies Campbell - former Lib Dem leader - takes his chance to pounce. He asks the PM about Tory peer Lord Heseltine's assertion that a Europe referendum is "ill-advised". The PM responds that he and Lord Heseltine, a former Deputy PM, "don't always see eye-to-eye" on Europe.


    As PMQs comes to a shuddering close, the House empties somewhat with a great shuffling of feet. The discussion moves on to a statement on A-levels by education minister Elizabeth Truss.


    On BBC Two's Daily Politics, Labour's shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint says a referendum creates "too many uncertainties".

    1239: Marco Caamano, Bushey, Hertfordshire

    emails: Impressed with Mr Cameron's speech even though I'm not a Tory. Brave but necessary. We need to stay in the European Union but on different terms. Everything Mr Cameron is asking for makes so much sense: a leaner union, greater flexibility, some powers back to partner states, greater accountability and fairness. It seems the European union is broken and he is simple asking everyone to come together to fix it. Not sure I agree with his call for a referendum though. Negative sentiment on Europe in this country is so deep seated, no amount of convincing will bring about any other result than an immediate exit.

    1241: Nick Robinson Political editor

    tells Daily Politics says it is surprising that Mr Cameron has not "left himself any wriggle room". He says many Tory MPs want the commitment written down in the next election manifesto, as some "don't trust him" on the issue.


    The Westminster lobby fills with chatter as MPs exit the House. Tory MP Michael Fallon tells the BBC he is proud to be part of the only party which will give the public "a choice" over whether Britain should be in or out of Europe.


    Conservative chairman Grant Shapps tells Daily Politics that political leaders do not always act purely in the party interest, including on the subject of Europe.


    Mayor of London Boris Johnson brands David Cameron's speech "a great deal for Britain". He adds the PM is "lopping off the brambles that have grown up" over the Europe project.


    News agency Reuters says German Chancellor Angela Merkel is "prepared to speak about British wishes" but that a "compromise" has to be found that is fair for all.


    Austrian newspaper Der Standard publishes an angry reaction to Cameron's speech from two of the country's MEPs. "There should be no new special treatment for the UK," says the vice-president of the EU Parliament, Othmar Karas. "British prime minister makes a mistake if he thinks he can blackmail the European institutions and government so that they will endlessly grant the UK many exceptions", says Socialist leader Hannes Swoboda.


    Elsewhere in Europe. the headline on the website of leading centre-left Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag reads: "The British prime minister has issued an ultimatum to Brussels". The paper adds: "What the British prime minister will be renegotiating has so far been wrapped in a shroud of mystery."

    1253: Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

    blogs on the reaction to the PM's speech from across Europe. Our correspondent says: "Nothing said today can avoid the reality that Britain and much of the EU have very different ideas about the future of the union."

    1302: Robin Brant, Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Senior Labour aides say Ed set out position 'very clearly' in PMQs, adds the party 'does not support an in/out ref NOW', which Ed didn't say.


    Here's a clip of London Mayor Boris Johnson saying David Cameron is "bang on" about renegotiating Britain's membership of the EU.


    More from the BBC's Robin Brant following Labour's post-PMQs briefing: Labour aides insisted the party's position had not changed since Ed Miliband said in recent weeks that he was against a referendum because it would cause years of "uncertainty and instability" for British business. Aides said Labour would do "nothing to damage the British economy", saying that was why Labour "did not support a referendum now". They refused to rule out a referendum at some point, in spite of the fact that Mr Miliband appeared to do just that during Prime Minister's Questions.


    Conservative peer, and chief executive of Next, Lord Wolfson dismisses worries that a future referendum could harm British business as "nonsense" on BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

    1324: C Russel, Devon

    I want us to get out of Europe, as I feel I have been lied to and misled all my adult life about Europe. I am not against a federal state of Europe but I am totally repulsed by a double layer of bureaucracy, one for the Britain and another for the EEC.


    On BBC Radio 4's The World at One, the former head of UK Trade and Investment, Sir Andrew Cahn, warns of an "investment chill" with companies afraid to invest in the UK because of uncertainty over its future relationship with Europe.

    1328: Derek Morgan, Robertsbridge, England

    I listened very carefully to Mr Cameron's speech and for the first time in years I believe we have the opportunity to have our voice truly heard. Surely this is true democracy and I cannot understand anyone opposing the idea.


    Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair tells BBC Radio 4's The World at One that wanting to leave "the biggest political union" in the world is "a pretty mad thing for a country to do".

    1331: Stuart Cunningham, Germany

    Mr Cameron is only looking to find a way to motivate people to help him stay in power rather than think of the British people and economy. If he wasn't why not have the referendum earlier than the next election?


    Tony Blair tells the BBC he has concerns about raising the prospect of the UK leaving the EU ahead of any renegotiations. What the UK needs to do is "band together with allies to make the case for change", he says.


    Tony Blair says: "You're creating a situation of huge uncertainty and my point is why would you do that? There's no necessity to do it. We don't yet know what exactly we are going to ask Europe to do. We don't know what we can get out of it and we don't know what the rest of Europe is going to do."

    1337: Ned, Kingston

    If Cameron can prove that this won't damage inward investment, or our ability to extend the single market to services, or our ability to protect British interests in future free trade agreement talks with other countries, great.


    Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy tells BBC Radio 4's The World at One that David Cameron's speech was "ill-judged and ill-timed". He says it was an attempt to "placate the internal dynamics and tensions" in Mr Cameron's own party, but it won't work.


    UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he is "delighted" the debate about the UK's membership Europe is "now a mainstream issue". Asked on BBC Radio 4's The World at One about a possible future electoral pact with the Conservatives, he says he can't envisage it while David Cameron is leader because "he has been so consistently abusive to us".

    1346: Gary, Stafford

    emails: Pulling out the EU would save us at least £10bn a year which could be used towards paying off the deficit.


    Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander tells BBC Radio 4's The World at One that it is "not the right choice" for the country to prioritise an in/out referendum at a time when the focus should be on jobs and growth.


    Labour MP and former minister for Europe Keith Vaz says there should be an in/out referendum and the issue of Europe needs to be settled once and for all. He argues that the British people want a say as soon as possible.

    1348: Robert Dimmick, Reading

    We do not need to opt out from the European legislation that protects working people and consumers against big business. What we need is to work together to bring Europe under the democratic control of its people, not the competing insular governments, and to bring about the "ever closer union" which has always been the aim of the EU and which is why I and most other British people voted for it in 1975.


    Labour's Douglas Alexander says his party has "never said never" on an in/out referendum "because we don't generally use that kind of language when it comes to international relations".


    That concludes our live text coverage of the prime minister's speech and its immediate aftermath. It's been described as a momentous day in UK politics and one thing is for sure: the controversial issue of Europe will not disappear over the months and years ahead. Click here to read a round-up of the reaction so far. You can keep up with the latest developments on the BBC News Channel, radio and, of course, on the BBC News website.


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