Cameron EU referendum pledge: Your reactions
- 23 January 2013
- From the section UK Politics
David Cameron has said the British people must "have their say" on Europe as he pledged an in/out referendum if the Conservatives win the election.
The prime minister said he wanted to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU, before giving the "simple choice" of a vote on accepting the result of the talks or leaving the EU.
Here, we reflect a selection of some of the views from BBC News website users who contacted us to give their reaction to the speech.
Adam Aspinall, Liverpool
The heart of the argument over Britain's relationship centres on economics. If it were an argument centred on national identity and democracy Britain would have long ago left the EU.
Those who support our continued membership constantly say that any alternative would leave Britain, in terms of trade, isolated. They say that Switzerland has over a hundred free-trade agreements with the EU and so, if Britain were to follow the same road, it would take us a decade to negotiate similar deals.
However, if we look at two recent example of EU trade deals signed with South Korea and Singapore, we can see that all such claims are false. It took only two years to negotiate the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore. The likelihood is that that any similar negotiations with Britain and the EU would take less time due to both parties having shared standards across all economic sectors.
If the EU is so willing to negotiate a FTA with two countries that have smaller combined economies than Britain combined, then it is just silly to suggest they would not want to do the same with Britain.
This is why I support Britain's exit from the EU. I believe it is a question of national identity and democracy which I believe the EU undermines.
Joanne McAlpine, Glasgow
I welcome David Cameron's speech. However, the time aspect for a referendum worries me. Is he using this referendum promise as a carrot for the British electorate to vote the Tories back in? Will this offer of a referendum affect the voting in the Scottish independence referendum? The different possible outcomes have unsettled me.
As a Scot I fear the independence referendum now. Twenty years ago I would have voted 'Yes,' but because Alex Salmond says that an independent Scotland would go for EU membership (which would also mean adopting the Euro), I will vote 'No.' I want to keep the democratic union that I know and I believe it is economically too late for Scottish independence.
I do not think it is too late for UK independence though. I do feel fearful of all that is happening because of the EU, which comes across as dictatorial with an unyielding way of addressing issues. I'm not xenophobic, I just believe in a country's democratic right to self-govern. We may vote MEPs to the European Parliament, but time has shown that this is just a token gesture. Ultimately the EU is not democratic.
Europe is heading on a course to become one large federal state and I believe this is wrong. At least the Tories are addressing the EU, because Labour never gave the electorate the choice. I worry that the next election will result in a Lab/Lib coalition and the British public will never get their referendum and their say.
Alastair Lord, Strasbourg, France
I'm a student currently living in Strasbourg, so I'm all for the EU! I think that Britain has been sitting on the fence far too long about whether or not they wish to be in the EU.
However, I do not believe that the vast majority of the public will see this as an opportunity, rather as a threat to the British way of life. I believe that if we were to have a referendum tomorrow we'd be going it alone, and we'd suffer for it.
The vast majority of the public don't see all the benefits that the EU brings; they just read UKIP slogans on billboards claiming "The EU costs us x amount of pounds a year."
If we go it alone, we're up a certain creek without so much as a peanut for a paddle.
Jo Reese, Wiltshire, England
Britain is a really small country. When we are in Europe, we are part of a much larger trading block with potential for greater influence and negotiation power. We need to be fit for purpose for the 21st Century and that means working with our European neighbours for a future which we can all, more or less, sign up to.
We are no longer the England of Nelson's time, dominating the seas or of Victoria's era, where so much of the world was coloured pink. All this rubbish about a special relationship with the US is rubbish. We are just a little country, but as part of Europe, we can punch above our weight.
Not everything is right in Europe, far from it. It needs to be sorted. How can we possibly hope to get things sorted properly if successive prime ministers keep threatening to leave the party?
It really is time to stop threatening to take our ball home; it just irritates everyone and they all have balls of their own. We haven't got a hope on our own and we haven't got a place anywhere else.