DAVID Cameron has hinted that he would be prepared to stage an early referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union if the Conservatives regain power at the general election in May.
The Prime Minister said he would be “delighted” if he could wrap up his promised re-negotiation of Britain’s membership terms in time to put them to the country before the current target date of 2017.
His comments came as Ukip leader Nigel Farage indicated that he could be prepared to prop up a minority Conservative government in order to achieve his long-held objective of an in-out referendum.
Yesterday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Cameron reaffirmed his commitment to give the public a vote on Britain’s membership of the EU.
“The referendum must take place before the end of 2017. If we could do that earlier, I would be delighted,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a speech today Labour leader Ed Miliband will launch his election campaign warning that the Tories are taking the UK on “the road to nowhere” and claiming the choice in May is about the type of country people want to live in.
Returning to Manchester, the city of his much acclaimed One Nation speech in 2012, Mr Miliband will claim that the election is about two different visions for Britain in a bid to stop votes haemorrhaging to the SNP, Greens and Ukip.
He will promise the party will have four million doorstep conversations as well as people’s question times as he attempts to mobilise support.
He is due to say: “This is nothing less than a once in a generation fight about who our country works for.
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“It is a choice between a Tory plan where only a few at the top can succeed and our public services are threatened – or a Labour plan that puts working people first, deals with the deficit and protects our NHS.”
With his leadership still under fire from Labour backbenchers Mr Miliband will promise to lead from the front. He will say: “We will win this election, not by buying up thousands of poster sites, but by having millions of conversations.”
Also launching his election campaign today Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will warn voters against voting in a majority Tory or Labour government
He will argue that Labour is “a clear and present danger to the recovery” and its claims on the economy are equivalent to “waking up to find a late night voicemail from an ex saying that they’ve changed and it will all be different if only you give them one more chance.”
On the Conservatives he will claim that they are “trying to sell you an ideological approach to cuts to public services packaged up as continuity” and that their approach is tantamount to “a mobile phone salesman offering to renew your existing contract and then cutting the amount of calls you can make.”
Meanwhile, Mr Farage said that while it was “unlikely” Ukip would enter into a formal coalition with any of the other main parties in the event of another hung parliament, it could support a minority government if it meant there would be an early referendum.
He ruled out any formal deal with Labour or the SNP while he said that the current Conservative promise of a referendum in 2017 did not go far enough.
He said: “I want our democracy back, I want control of our borders back, I want us to be able to negotiate our own deals on the world stage. To do all of that, I need a referendum.”
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