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Cam defends EU referendum

Cam defends EU referendum

David Cameron has defended his promise to hold an in-out EU referendum if he is still Prime Minister in 2018, despite Nick Clegg warning the idea of renegotiation was "wholly implausible".

Speaking on his weekly phone-in show on LBC Radio, the Deputy Prime Minister accused his Coalition colleague of issuing “completely vague” aims for a reformed relationship and warned the uncertainty could harm the British economy.

But 55 British business leaders rallied around the Prime Minister this morning, writing to The Times in support of Mr Cameron.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Prime Minister insisted the five-year delay on a referendum would not cause more uncertainty or discourage investment into Britain.

“They [business people] say this is a sensible approach. So yes all courses of action on this issue have their difficulties. But I would argue the riskiest thing of all would be to do nothing, would be to sit back, see all the changes taking place in Europe with the eurozone, and just say ‘this is nothing to do with us’. And see all the debate in Britain and say ‘I’m going to stay back from it’.

“Much better to get in there, shape the debate, lead the debate, lead the argument for how we get a more competitive, flexible and open Europe, and then put that to the British people in a referendum.”

The Prime Minister's speech has also been backed by the British people, as a YouGov poll for the Sun found 63% of Britons backed the referendum, with less than a quarter opposed to the vote.

But Mr Cameron’s speech has received a cooler reaction among other European politicians. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was open to a “fair compromise”, other continental parliamentarians ruled out making significant concessions to Britain.

In an interview with CNN Mr Cameron said: "I hope I'll be remembered as someone who did everything they could to get the British Economy back on track, to strengthen Britain's society and Britain's place in the world, and to secure Britain's place in a reformed European Union.

"I think that is what I want to achieve. There is obviously a huge amount of work in the years ahead, but I feel very confident and positive that having set out a plan, I think explain to the world, to our European partners, to the British people, the British business, everyone can see there is a plan to change Europe for the better, and to secure Britain's place in it."

Green Box: Cam defends EU referendumClick to open

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