DAVID Cameron has confirmed the EU referendum will take place on Thursday 23rd June after meeting with his cabinet this morning to discuss the new deal made in Brussels, The Sun reports. The PM announced Brits will be able to vote over a possible Brexit in late June of this year. Cam said: “The cabinet agreed that the government’s position will be to recommend that Britain remains in a reformed European Union.”
The PM said: “He has wanted to pull out of the EU for 30 years. Of course, I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised.” The majority of the cabinet are reportedly supporting the PM’s ‘In’ campaign. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The Prime Minister has total support from the whole cabinet for the way he has conducted the renegotiations.”
The deal, which Mr Cameron said would “give the UK special status in the EU”, was declared at 9.31pm UK time. But he was again forced to water down crucial demands on slashing migrants’ benefits. He said the agreement paved the way for the “historic” In/Out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The vote will be the British people’s first say in 41 years.
Dubbing it as giving the UK “the best of both worlds”, Mr Cameron insisted he had won key opt-outs. He said they meant we would “never join the Euro, never be part of its bailouts, never join a European army or a European superstate”. Mr Cameron said: “I believe this is enough for me to recommend the UK remain in the European Union.”
He added: “The British people must now decide whether to stay in this reformed EU or leave. It’s a once in a generation moment.” He warned: “Turning our back on the EU is no solution at all. I believe we are stronger, safer and better off inside the EU.” The deal limits benefits for migrants, protects the City of London and excludes Britain from ever closer union.
Critics said it would not allow the UK to block unwanted laws or reduce migration.
Dine to the wire
MARATHON EU talks finally resulted in a deal last night after a row over David Cameron’s attempt to slash migrant benefits. After just three hours’ sleep in close to 36 hours of painful deliberations, the PM fended off a fresh bid to block his proposals. A formal meal involving all 28 leaders began at 9 last night — 11 hours later than the “English breakfast” that officials had planned. And the deal was announced half an hour later.
Germany’s Angela Merkel got so hungry waiting that she was seen sneaking out to buy chips. The showdown in Brussels began at 5pm on Thursday but by the time Europe’s prime ministers and presidents went to bed at 5.30am yesterday only “some progress” had been made.
Four Eastern European countries — Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — had been refusing to accept gradual access to tax credits over four years. They have hundreds of thousands of workers in Britain. The four were also livid about Mr Cameron’s demand to limit child benefit payments to the levels paid in their countries.
Poland alone has 100,000 “euro orphans” whose parents work in other EU countries — including 20,000 in Britain — meaning the country would lose a fortune in benefits cash. But last night Mr Cameron announced he had clinched an “emergency brake” arrangement to deter immigrants for at least seven years.
However Eurosceptics hit out at the deal, claiming it would not allow Britain to block unwanted EU laws or reduce migration. Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “This is a truly pathetic deal. Let’s leave the EU, control our borders, run our own country and stop handing £55million every day to Brussels.”
And Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave, insisted it was a “hollow victory”. He said: “The EU courts are still in control of our borders and our laws, we still send £350million a week to the EU and we have not taken back any control. “This deal is not legally binding and can be ripped up by EU politicians and unelected EU judges so it will have no more force than an unsigned contract.”
Earlier talks had stalled when other richer nations such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany steamed in to demand the same reforms for themselves, fearing a backlash from their own voters. The delays in sealing the deal sabotaged the PM’s original plan for a triumphant return to London last night with a deal in his hand to present to a Cabinet meeting.
Aides had planned that he would announce live on the Six O’Clock News that a landmark In/Out referendum will be held on June 23. Instead he took to the podium in Brussels late last night to announce he would present the deal to Cabinet this morning. Six of his top team are expected to campaign for Leave following the meeting.
Mrs Merkel said last night: “We believe we have given David Cameron a package that will elicit support in the UK for the country to remain in the EU. The fact that we wanted Britain to remain in the EU justified compromises we made.” And Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said: “David Cameron fought hard for Britain. Good deal for UK and for EU. Congrats!”
However Mr Cameron’s reform package to keep the UK in the EU was embarrassingly rubbished by one fellow leader as just a “face-saving” exercise. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite tweeted: “Whatever face-saving and face-lifting exercise we do, decision belongs to British people.”