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U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron during a speech, London, U.K., May 21, 2015 (U.K. government photo by Arron Hoare).

Cameron’s EU Referendum: Lucky Gamble or Mission Impossible?

Friday, June 26, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron once implored his fellow Conservative Party members to “stop banging on about Europe.” But that was back in 2006, when he was just running the party as its new leader. In a speech in January 2013, as his awkward coalition government with the pro-European Union Liberal Democrats was enacting unpopular austerity cuts at home, Cameron changed course. He promised that, if re-elected, he would renegotiate the fundamental terms of the United Kingdom’s EU membership and put the result up for an in-or-out referendum to be held by the end of 2017.

Since all opinion polls ahead of parliamentary elections this spring showed Britain headed for another hung parliament, with neither Labour nor Liberal Democrats eager to gamble away Britain’s European future, no one took Cameron’s threat of a referendum too seriously. Then the Conservatives beat all the odds and won a narrow majority in May. Cameron’s triumphant return to 10 Downing Street has put a British EU referendum firmly on the agenda; it could now take place as soon as May 2016. ...

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