Cameron says Tusk proposals 'good terms' for staying in EU

British prime minister expected to hold referendum in June if deal agreed at this month’s summit

David Cameron: the prime minister claimed  he had confounded sceptics by achieving agreement on all his demands. Photograph: Ben Pruchnie/Reuters

David Cameron: the prime minister claimed he had confounded sceptics by achieving agreement on all his demands. Photograph: Ben Pruchnie/Reuters

 

David Cameron has welcomed Donald Tusk’s proposals as “good terms” for Britain to remain in the European Union, claiming he had achieved all the demands set out in last year’s Conservative manifesto.

Speaking at a Siemens factory in Wiltshire, the prime minister cautioned that much work remained to be done before all EU leaders sign off on the deal at a summit in Brussels on February 19th. But he said that Mr Tusk’s proposals were an adequate basis for him to campaign for Britain to stay in the EU.

“Sometimes people say to me, if you weren’t in the EU would you opt to join the EU? And today I can give a very clear answer: if I could get these terms for British membership I sure would opt in to be a member of the EU because they are good terms and they are different to what other countries have,” he said.

Mr Cameron said the referendum could be only “months away”, and he is expected to hold the vote in June if a deal is agreed at this month’s summit. He claimed that he had confounded sceptics by achieving agreement on all his demands, after many critics warned that such a deal was impossible.

“People said we wouldn’t get the idea of people having to wait four years before getting in-work benefits in Britain – it’s there in the document.

“People said you’ll never really manage to sort of get Britain out of the concept of ever-closer union. Again, it’s pretty clearly set out in the document,” he said.

“So real progress, more work to be done, more detail to be nailed down, but we said we needed to deliver in four key areas – this document shows real progress on that front.”

Labour has promised to campaign for Britain to stay in the EU and former minister Alan Johnson, who chairs Labour In For Britain, said the reforms should be agreed quickly so the campaign can get under way. Although business groups welcomed Mr Tusk’s proposals, Conservative Eurosceptics were dismissive and Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the document was “hardly worth the wait, pathetic”.

Unambitious

“The very limited set of demands from our government have been watered down by the EU in every area. The British people want to take back control and end the supremacy of EU law over our economy, our borders and our parliament,” said former defence secretary Liam Fox.

“None of these changes even come close to the fundamental changes promised to the public. We are being asked to risk staying in the EU based on the back of empty promises from the EU that are not even backed up in treaty. The only safe option is to vote Leave.”