Brexit battle lines drawn: Key figures choose sides as Cameron sets EU referendum date (VIDEO)
It seems that Prime Minister David Cameron will not be able to count on his justice secretary for support in the referendum, as Michael Gove is expected to campaign to leave the political-economic bloc.
BREAKING: British PM David Cameron announces the EU referendum to be hold on June 23.— Ruptly (@Ruptly) February 20, 2016
Brexit campaigner and UKIP MEP Roger Helmer hailed Gove’s anticipated stance as “courageous and principled,” while media magnate Rupert Murdoch also congratulated the justice secretary.
Seems that Michael Gove will campaign for #Brexit. Well done that man. Courageous and principled.— Roger Helmer (@RogerHelmerMEP) February 19, 2016
Congratulations Michael Gove. Friends always knew his principles would overcome his personal friendships.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 20, 2016
Commons leader Chris Grayling has signaled his intentions to back a Brexit.
Confirmed Grayling is out— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) February 20, 2016
Ministers Iain Duncan Smith, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and Secretary of State for Culture John Whittingdale, are all being tipped to join a Brexit revolt.
Firmly in the pro-EU camp are Home Secretary Theresa May and Chancellor George Osborne.
May hailed the outcome of Cameron’s EU negotiations, saying greater decision-making power for the UK “strengthens our ability to deport dangerous criminals.”
She has also nailed her colors to the pro-EU mast by saying European Union membership remained in the “national interest.”
Full Theresa May Home Secretary Statement on backing the UK staying in the EU: pic.twitter.com/vHejwWZiuT— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) February 20, 2016
Minister of State for Small Business Anna Soubry also wants to stay in the EU. The Conservative MP retweeted a number of Stronger In campaign posts highlighting the benefits of Britain’s involvement in Europe.
The EU isn’t perfect – but the benefits outweigh the costs and this deal makes Britain even stronger in Europe than we would be out of it— Stronger In (@StrongerIn) February 19, 2016
David Cameron: we face a myriad of threats to our security.We defeat these threats by working together with our closest neighbours in Europe— Stronger In (@StrongerIn) February 19, 2016
The deal: “Special UK status”
A confirmed referendum date came as the Cabinet met on a Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War, to discuss the deal allowing the UK to pull back on certain EU membership obligations.
Speaking outside Downing Street Saturday, Cameron said he does not “love Brussels,” but staying in a reformed Europe will make Britain “safer” and “stronger.”
The Conservative leader announced on Friday he had “negotiated a deal to give the UK special status in the EU.”
The Cabinet will this morning discuss the UK's new special status in the EU - afterwards I'll announce the planned referendum date.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) February 20, 2016
Speaking of the EU negotiations, Cameron said the UK will “never join the euro,” or be compelled to contribute to EU armed forces or member state bailouts.
The deal will also allow the UK to set emergency brakes on migrant benefits and immigration.
Cameron is now ready to campaign “heart and soul” for staying in the EU after negotiating “the best of both worlds.”
I believe Britain is stronger, safer and better off within a reformed European Union. My statement on tonight's deal https://t.co/7XCOHfQFTR— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) February 19, 2016
Pro-EU and Brexit campaign groups are now set to go into overdrive in preparation for Britain’s second referendum in two years.