UK referendum on EU membership to be held next June – media

David Cameron © Paul Hackett
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK will hold a referendum on the country’s EU membership by June, 2016, the Independent on Sunday reports.

According to the newspaper, this decision will be announced by the prime minister at the Conservative Party conference, slated for October.

The British government hasn’t confirmed the date of the vote, although the Queen said in her speech in May that the referendum would be held before the end of 2018. Downing Street has been talking of a vote before the end of 2017.

Cameron is believed to want an early referendum due to the EU’s recent efforts to keep Greece in the eurozone. The bloc’s reluctance to let member states leave has led the British government to hope their demands will be accepted, the Independent reported.

Another reason for shifting the vote date is the fear that the French presidential and German federal elections scheduled for 2017 will be an obstacle for bargaining with the EU.

This time Cameron wants the EU to accept a number of reforms, which reflect British disagreement with European policy. London is particularly keen on hardening its migration policy and to decrease Brussels’ influence on the national legislation process.

Cameron is apparently certain that Britain will remain in the EU.

“Polls show that support for remaining inside the EU is the highest it’s been for a quarter of a century. The PM has already made his case to all 27 EU leaders and a vote held next year or the year after will not affect the outcome,” says the Independent citing a “serious” source.

The British prime minister is expected to model his political strategy on the Scottish referendum, during which people were promised a package of reforms in the event of voting in favor of staying within the United Kingdom.

British euroskeptics are, however, optimistic about the coming referendum.

“We will be launching a massive series of public events and meetings all over the country starting in September. These will be public meetings. They will be live web streamed. We are going to be busy, delivering leaflets through the doors by the million. We are not prepared to stand around and wait,” Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, told the Telegraph in June.

READ MORE: Farage: I’m ready to lead EU referendum ‘No’ campaign

The EU is unhappy at the prospect of a referendum.

“There are attempts by people in Europe and also in this country to create new barriers between countries,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz after his meeting with David Cameron on June 18.
“Outright lies told... What makes me sad and angry in all this debate is the undertone of national resentment. Hatred is spread. People are used as scapegoats,” Schulz added.

READ MORE: ‘Hatred and lies’: European Parliament president slams ‘toxic’ UK debate on Europe

Scotland’s former First Minister Alex Salmond has also criticized the referendum saying the Conservative Party’s European Union Referendum Bill is “based on nonsense and contradiction.”

“Nobody actually believes that Cameron wants a referendum,” he said in June.

READ MORE: EU referendum bill ‘based on nonsense and contradiction’ – Salmond