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PM David Cameron responds to uproar over his E.U. speech

January 24th, 2013
10:46 AM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Prime Minister David Cameron could either be remembered as the man who led Britain out of the European Union or the person who managed to keep it in the union.

Cameron believes history will see him as the prime minister who helped "reform" the European Union, he said in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

"I feel very confident and positive that having set out a plan, having explained to the world ... everyone can see there is a plan to change Europe for the better and to secure Britain's place in it."  

In a speech in London on Wednesday, he called for renegotiating the terms of Britain's European Union membership and said that if his party wins the next election, there will be a vote on the membership.

There has been considerable backlash to Cameron's speech from European leaders, as well as from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who likened it to the movie "Blazing Saddles," in which a character holds a gun to his head and threatens to shoot himself if he does not get his way.

"To those who disagree, I would just say you cannot attack a plan if you've got nothing to attack it with," Cameron told Amanpour.

Despite sending shock waves across Europe with his speech, Cameron said he had no regrets about the proposal.

"We've set out a plan for how we get change in Europe that will benefit all of Europe, making it more open, more competitive, more flexible, and how we secure Britain's place within that," he said.

Critics see Cameron's move as a gamble, particularly the referendum that could see the UK exit the EU, even if that is not Cameron's goal.

"I think the referendum is vital, because in the end, we should have the consent of the people for what we do," he told Amanpour. "I believe we'll secure the changes that we need and I will be able to recommend to the British people that we vote to stay in the European Union."

Cameron said the biggest risk is not Britain leaving the European Union, but rather the economic hazard if the EU does not pursue reforms.

"The greatest gamble for Britain would be to sit back and do nothing," he said.

Cameron reiterated his belief that the European Union over-regulates in many areas, but he said he will not put a list of demands on tables and storm off if he does not get them.

"What we're saying is that we should, in Europe, we should have changes that will benefit all of the countries of the European Union, but which at the same time will - I think - make Britain more comfortable with her place in the European Union."

Not everything that Cameron had to say about the European Union was negative.

"Clearly, there are important benefits from belonging to a single market, the freedom to travel and to live in different parts of Europe," he said. But he stressed that too much regulation was put on the UK, on everything from banking to limits on the hours that doctors can work.

"I think Britain would be better off in a reformed European Union, but I think the right approach is to seek that reform and then hold that referendum."

Key British allies are also concerned, not just about the economic ramifications, but also about the foreign policy implications of a British exit from the EU.

A White House spokesman said that during the Algerian hostage crisis, Obama said to Cameron: "The United States values a strong UK in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity and security in Europe and around the world."

Cameron acknowledged the important role the United Kingdom plays in foreign affairs, signaling that as one of the reasons why Britain is so crucial to the European Union.

"Britain is not isolationist. We are the ones, often, who step forward and take solidarity action with European partners," he said, citing British support of the French in Mali and imposing sanctions in Iran.

"So we're very positive players," he said. "Of course there will be tough negotiations ahead, but I don't doubt that with goodwill, we can improve the European Union for everybody."

READ MORE: Cameron: G8 to focus on trade, taxes


Filed under:  European Union • Latest Episode • United Kingdom
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. georgi benevolent

    EC and ECB mind-control_ many politicians and business people in Europe. They
    manipulate financial markets, require high interest rate, require low-price
    privatization.
    This is done with small implants in the head (sometimes involuntary)and
    wireless technology, European Parliament calls it “converging technology”. Essentially a sensor is connected to nerves and the brain
    teaches itself to recognize the single in this way the thoughts of a person
    can be received and also send to him/her. I found such device implanted in my
    sinuses with FMRI. I studied at CEU – sponsored by Soros, and Rostowski, the
    financial minister of Poland was teaching there (he is also mind_ contolled), Bokrosh – European Parliament as well.
    Behind Soros, actually are EC and ECB – the owners and beneficiaries of the
    technology. It is not done for security, because I worked for the Bulgarian_
    National Bank and I was threatened with this technology to make credit
    expansion for the bank cartel (CEU is teaching the central banks in CEE this
    actually). From BNB the mind-controlled on_ Telekom_ Austria_ net_ are Staty Statev, Kalin Hristov, Mariela Nenova, Andrey Vassilev, Rosen Rozenov, Grigor Stoevsky, Kristina Karagyozova, Tzvetan Tzalinsky lost 20 bln at stock exchange, 10 bln bad loans, tens of bilions at housing market.
    I also met Papademos at a Austrian Central Bank Conference, while he was in
    ECB, and I believe he is also mind-controlled. Tha same is valid for Spain, Italy, Greece.

    January 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  2. Al Moran

    Oh Cameron Cameron, please have the b**** to leave the EU and LEAVE US ALONE. We don't need you (we, the continental people). It's funny how politicians never follow the will of the people. Brits want to get divorce and us say "frankly my dear I do not give a d." But EU politicians rather prefer to sing "Please don't go" and Cameron "With or without you". PLEASE CAMERON FREE YOURSELF AND YOUR TINY LITTLE COUNTRY AND LEAVE US ALONE.

    January 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  3. Ted

    Al Moran. This is democratic, get used to it. Cameron is doing the right thing, other leaders should follow, this an opportunity to positively change the EU's trajectory, I know many Germans and Frenchmen that would agree with that.

    January 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  4. Al Moran

    Ted, if it was not clear: I'm happy about the referendum (I love Switzerland style) and hope a massive yes to leave the EU is obtained. Only asking Cameron stop playing both sides once and for all. UK goes on its own (or becomes the 51st US state) and we, continentals, go federal.....if our politicians decide to ask us in a referendum.

    January 25, 2013 at 1:20 am | Reply
  5. Ted

    Al Moran. Then in your case he has done well in exposing the Anglo-hatred within the EU.

    January 25, 2013 at 5:47 am | Reply
  6. Roko

    Someone here wrote this, so I will repeat.

    PLEASE CAMERON FREE YOURSELF AND YOUR TINY LITTLE COUNTRY AND LEAVE US ALONE.

    January 25, 2013 at 8:09 am | Reply
  7. Roko

    Anywhere, of course that is pleasure for you Cameron to be in Davos on British taxpayers account.

    Enjoy skiing vacation in Davos Mr. Prime Minister!

    January 25, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply
  8. Ted

    Roko. Where are you from just out of interest?

    January 25, 2013 at 8:46 am | Reply
  9. Pavel Alba

    Cameron acts as an amateur politician.

    January 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  10. John

    I think saying your going to have a referendum.. is a weak way of saying to the British people ok we want a referendum and we are going to have one but if the sh-t hits the fan your going to be responsible and not the ME David Cameron and The Cons. party if it fails ....thats not leadership that is simply cunning and weak.

    The conservatives are trying save there behinds just incase it goes sour . plus they are using the British people and the referendum game as a bargaining chip with Europe.. i find that very very sad... the Conservatives have gotten a little above themselves this time and the arrogance is actually quite overwelming

    January 28, 2013 at 4:36 am | Reply
  11. fenderstrat928CCBC

    I wouldn't be surprised if David Cameron pulls the United Kingdom. out of the European Union. What he had to say about the E.U. is typical of someone in the Conservative party. England is highly regulated and very pro union/labor. Since the E.U. puts even more restrictions on how the U.K. can operate and trade, it is putting a strain on their economy and their national sovereignty. It is possible that Cameron could get some of the changes in the E.U. that he seeks as the U.K. is one of the major economies in the E.U., along with France and Germany. However, seeing as the U.K. doesn't even use the Euro, it is very possible that they will altogether leave the E.U. The problem with the E.U. is that some of the poorer countries (like Greece) are putting a huge drag on the wealthier, more stable nations such as the U.K. and Germany. I don't think the U.K. is willing to participate in bailing out the poorer countries (Especially with a conservative Cameron in charge).

    February 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Reply
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