Facing a dramatic decline in support for his party due to its continued, albeit half-hearted, support for the controversial European Union, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron finally promised British subjects a referendum on whether or not to leave the EU — in five years. However, despite the tsunami of public opposition to the union, establishment figures from around the world, including the Obama administration, are using transparent fear-mongering tactics warning Britons to stick with the embattled super state or face dire consequences.
Still, with the liberty-minded U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) surging in opinion polls, thanks in large measure to its steadfast opposition to continued obedience to power-hungry “eurocrats” in Brussels, Cameron’s Conservative Party has taken a serious beating, putting its reelection prospects in jeopardy. Of course, many Conservative Party political leaders have long supported withdrawal from the EU, but until very recently, Prime Minister Cameron had waffled on the issue of letting the people decide for themselves.
Indeed, despite the grandstanding, Cameron, who had already suggested a referendum before he came to power but later backtracked, says he still supports U.K. membership in the union, asking only that some of the powers usurped by the EU be repatriated to London to avoid a so-called “Brexit” — a British exit from the union. In the face of overwhelming pressure from across the nation, and even within his own party, however, Cameron finally decided to announce that, if he is reelected, Britons will get to vote on continued membership. First, though, he plans to seek concessions from Brussels.
"It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe," Cameron said in a widely quoted speech, noting that his party would, in the meantime, work to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership in the EU. "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 European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum."
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Photo of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron making a speech on a referendum over a British exit from the EU: AP Images