Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he will resign if he cannot deliver a referendum on Britain’s EU membership by 2017. He made the pledge during a conference call with party activists yesterday, during which one supporter told him “no one believes you” on his desire for an in/out referendum.
The Telegraph reports that during yesterday’s phone-in, a caller named Ian said: “David, how do you plan to convince the British public you are serious about having a referendum after the next general election? I don’t think anybody believes you are serious about that. I don’t believe it myself.”
There have been fears that if the Conservatives do not win an overall majority in Parliament after next year’s General Election the Conservatives would be forced to drop their EU referendum pledge as part of a deal to form a new coalition.
But Cameron insisted that a referendum would be a red-line in any coalition deal, and pledged to resign as Prime Minister if he cannot deliver it.
“This is not something I would ever barter away or give away. I would not be Prime Minister of a government unless we could carry out our pledge of an in-out referendum,” he said.
“I’ve already pre-empted that question, what happens if somehow you don’t win the election outright. I’ve been very clear: I would not continue as Prime Minister unless I be absolutely guaranteed this referendum will go ahead on an in-out basis. I can’t make it any clearer than that.”
The Prime Minister went on to criticise “benefits tourism” by EU migrants, and said that EU fishing quotas that force trawler men to discard their catch are “ghastly”.
He acknowledged that consent on the EU “has worn wafer thin in Britain”.
Recent polls have shown Labour’s lead over the Conservatives narrowing, with one putting the two parties even last weekend. Many analysts now predict another hung parliament at next year’s General Election, with both main parties likely to court the Liberal Democrats to form a new coalition government.
As the Liberal Democrats are staunchly pro-EU, they are unlikely to approve of an in/out referendum.
David Cameron said that the next General Election will be “tough”, but told activists that the economy is now “on track”.