LONDON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said he would hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership, if his Conservative Party wins the next election, expected in 2015.
"It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe," Cameron said in a long-awaited speech on the future of Britain-EU relations.
"Public disillusionment with the EU is at an all-time high," Cameron said. "That's why I am in favour of a referendum."
With the EU in a flux and its future not clear, Cameron said he wanted to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU before asking people to vote, so that people's choice could be "a real one."
The British people would face a "very simple choice" either to accept the result of the talks, or to leave the EU altogether, he said.
But he believed it was premature to have the referendum immediately. "A vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice," he said.
He said his country would survive outside the EU, but cautioned people to think carefully because there would be no return.
"Alone, we would be free to take our own decisions," he said. But within the EU, "we have more power and influence."
In the speech, Cameron also said the EU must change, both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples.
He noted that there are problems in the eurozone, crisis of European competitiveness and a yawning gap between the EU and its citizens.
"We all need the eurozone to have the right governance and structures to secure a successful currency for the long term," Cameron said.
Talking about the competitiveness challenge, he said Europe's share of world output is projected to fall by almost a third in the next two decades.
The third challenge was "a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf," said the prime minister.
Cameron proposed five principles for a new EU: competitiveness, flexibility, power flowing back to Member States, democratic accountability and fairness.
"With courage and conviction I believe we can achieve a new settlement in which Britain can be comfortable and all our countries can thrive," he said.
LONDON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron will give his speech on Britain's future relations with the European Union (EU) in London Wednesday, a government spokesman said Monday.
Cameron postponed the much-anticipated speech last week because of the Algerian gas plant hostage crisis. The speech was originally scheduled for Friday in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Full story