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Britain to Vote in June on Staying in EU

  • Lisa Bryant

British Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London, Feb. 20, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London, Feb. 20, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Saturday that a referendum on Britain's continued membership in the European Union will take place on June 23.

Speaking to reporters outside his London residence, Cameron said his Cabinet approved a recommendation that Britain stay in a reformed 28-nation European Union.

He said Britain will be safer, stronger and better off remaining a member of the EU. The ultimate decision is for the British people to make in June, the prime minister added. He promised to campaign in favor of the EU.

“This deal has delivered on the commitments I made at the beginning of the regeneration process," he said.

No European superstate

"Britain will be permanently out of an ever-closer union, never part of a European superstate. There will be tough new restrictions to access to our welfare system for EU migrants – no more something for nothing. Britain will never join the euro, and we’ve secured vital protections for our economy," Cameron added.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, center left, talks during the round table meeting of European Union heads of state and government at an EU summit in Brussels, Feb. 19, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, center left, talks during the round table meeting of European Union heads of state and government at an EU summit in Brussels, Feb. 19, 2016.

Britain’s deal with the EU came after a marathon two-day summit in Brussels that ended when EU members agreed on a package of concessions to Cameron, which he called "special status."

The concessions include giving Britain the right to restrict benefits and welfare payments to workers from other EU nations who come to Britain for jobs, and guarantees that Britain will not be penalized for continuing to use the pound currency instead of switching to the euro.

Britain will also not be obligated to form a so-called closer union with the rest of the EU.

Some EU leaders initially objected to giving Britain the right to cut back on welfare payments to foreign workers, but none wanted to see Britain, with its powerful economy and military, leave the EU.

Economic issues

Many British politicians, especially Conservatives, want to pull Britain out of the EU, mainly for economic reasons.

Skeptics and supporters of the “out” vote are already criticizing the EU deal as insufficient. The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper called it “watered down.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the deal also got mixed reviews. France’s conservative Le Figaro suggested it might be the “kiss of death” for Europe

European Council president Donald Tusk said EU members were willing to sacrifice part of their interests for the common good.

"I deeply believe the United Kingdom needs Europe and Europe needs the United Kingdom. To break the link now would be totally against our mutual interest. We have done all we could not to let that happen, but the final decision is in the hands of the British people,” Tusk said.

Isabela Cocoli in Washington contributed to this report.

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