Britain’s prime minister appealed to doubters at home and in other EU capitals on Tuesday to back his attempt to reform the 28-member bloc as a chance to boost prosperity rather than write it off as “Mission Impossible”.
David Cameron, under pressure after overseeing what critics see as a lacklustre start to the renegotiation of Britain’s ties with the European Union before a referendum, used a speech to offer the most detail yet on where he wants change.
The EU executive was quick to call at least one of the British leader’s demands – a limit on benefits EU migrants to Britain are entitled to – “highly problematic”, while saying other proposals such as boosting the role of national parliaments in decision-making in the bloc appeared feasible.
Cameron left little room for doubt he wants Britain to stay in a reformed European Union, linking for the first time British security to its membership. But he also warned that if his demands fell on a “deaf ear”, he could lobby to leave.
“There will be those who say, here and elsewhere in the EU, that we are embarked on ‘Mission Impossible’,” Cameron told diplomats, reporters and business leaders at the Chatham House think tank in London.
“I do not believe so for a minute … The European Union has a record of solving intractable problems … In doing so we can make Britain and the whole of Europe safer and more prosperous for generations to come.”