LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver his postponed address on Britain’s future relations with Europe on Wednesday, his office said Monday.
Mr. Cameron had planned to deliver the speech in Amsterdam on Friday but delayed it amid the Algerian hostage crisis, in which at least three Britons were killed. However, Mr. Cameron’s office released excerpts suggesting he had planned to explicitly warn that Britain might leave the European Union unless the bloc changed the way it was run.
Under pressure from his Conservative Party, Mr. Cameron has signaled his readiness for a referendum on the relationship with Europe, although the precise question to be asked is not clear.
The United States has been unusually public in its insistence that Britain, a close ally, stay in the union. Last week, a White House spokesman quoted President Obama as telling Mr. Cameron by telephone that “the United States values a strong U.K. in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity and security in Europe and around the world.”
On Sunday the American ambassador in London, Louis B. Susman, told Sky News, “We cannot imagine a strong E.U. without a vibrant partner in the U.K.”
“That is what we hope will come about, but it is up to the British people to decide what they want,” Mr. Susman said, according to the news agency Press Association.
Mr. Cameron’s initial choice of Amsterdam for the speech reflected a long tradition of using European cities for British pronouncements on Europe. But a spokesman for Mr. Cameron, speaking on the condition of anonymity under departmental protocols, said Monday that the speech would be given in London and would include both European and British perspectives.
“There is a debate going on across the E.U.,” the spokesman said. “There is also an active debate going on here in the U.K. The prime minister’s speech will be reflecting both those aspects.”
According to the excerpts released last week, Mr. Cameron planned to note “a gap between the E.U. and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years and which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is — yes — felt particularly acutely in Britain.”
“If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift toward the exit. I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success, and I want a relationship between Britain and the E.U. that keeps us in it.”
Liam Fox, a former defense secretary and a leading Conservative euroskeptic, said he had been briefed on the address’s content. “If that is the speech that is finally delivered,” he said, “a great many of us will think that it’s a speech that we’ve been waiting a long time for any prime minister to deliver.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday there was a strong case for seeking “fresh consent” about the relationship between the European Union and Britain, which held a referendum in 1975 approving membership in the union’s precursor.
“We want to succeed in the European Union” he said, adding, “But we have to recognize that the European Union has changed a lot since the referendum of 1975, and that there have been not only great achievements to the E.U.’s name but some things that have gone badly wrong, such as the euro.”
(da http://www.nytimes.com, 21/01/2013)