Prime Minister David Cameron will today promise a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union, allowing U.K. voters to decide on breaking up the 27-nation bloc.
Promising to make the case to remain in the EU once he has negotiated a return of some powers to Britain, Cameron will say the democratic consent for the status quo in Europe is “wafer thin.” He will pledge to put the question to a popular vote by the end of 2017, if re-elected in two years.
“It is time for the British people to have their say,” Cameron will say in a speech in central London, according to extracts released by his office. “It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”
Cameron is responding to pressure from lawmakers in his Conservative Party for looser ties with the EU or an outright departure from the political union. European leaders have rejected his calls to renegotiate membership terms. His Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour Party also reject the plans and the U.S. has expressed concern.
The 2015 election remains his biggest obstacle. Opinion polls show the Tories losing support to the anti-EU U.K. Independence Party and trailing the Labour Party by around 10 percentage points in opinion polls.