Cameron speech on EU planned for Wednesday

Mon, Jan 21, 2013, 00:00

British prime minister David Cameron’s delayed speech on the European Union, which will offer significant concessions to Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers, will be delivered on Wednesday, it is understood.

Calling for “a better relationship” between the UK and the EU, foreign secretary William Hague said there were changes that were required, particularly as the 17 euro zone countries came more closely together.

“When we have done those things, there is a strong case for fresh consent in this country, for the people of this country having their say,” said Mr Hague.

He said the location and timing for Mr Cameron’s speech would be given today.

Illustrating the debate within the Conservative party, former defence secretary Liam Fox made clear yesterday that he would vote to quit the EU entirely, although he wanted, at a minimum, “a fundamental renegotiation” rather than “quibbles” over one EU power, or another.

All the cards

“I don’t think we should go into a renegotiation with our European partners believing that they hold all the cards. I read all the time that, ‘We won’t be able to get this’ or ‘They won’t allow it’.

“I don’t believe that the balance of influence is all on their side,” he declared.

Interestingly, tracking polls by YouGov have shown a marked rise over the last fortnight in Britons who would vote to stay in the EU – exceeding the number who would vote to quit by two percentage points, excluding the “don’t knows”.