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Government will push benefits of staying in EU if happy with reform – Hammond

The British government will be “selling hard” the advantages of staying in the European Union in a national referendum if it can secure a good enough package of reforms, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Monday.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who won a second term in office last month, has promised to reform Britain’s EU ties ahead of a referendum on continuing membership by the end of 2017.

“If we can get a decent package we will be selling hard the advantages, not just of staying in the EU but of stepping up,” Hammond told an event at the Chatham House think tank in London.

“We should be thinking of the EU as an organisation that we can shape, that we can shape in an image that we find attractive. That is the prize here, we get to get the British people thinking positively about our engagement in Europe again.”

Hammond, who has previously said he would vote to leave an unreformed EU, also said it was in Britain’s economic interests to stay in the EU as long as the bloc was outward-looking and focussed on being competitive.

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