EU leaders rattled by UK plans for a referendum on membership

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EU leaders rattled by UK plans for a referendum on membership

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union by 2017, provided he is re-elected.

“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.

Cameron says the UK must negotiate a new settlement with the EU first, and then the British public will vote.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has criticised the UK’s stance:

“We share the vision of a better Europe. We need a new commitment to the principle of subsidiarity, not all and everything must be decided in Brussels and by Brussels. We do indeed differentiate, but cherry-picking is not an option,” Westerwelle said.

But Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti says he thinks the people of the UK will stick with the union:

“I am confident that if there is to be referendum one day, the UK’s citizens will decide to stay in the European Union and contribute to shaping its future. I think the European Union does not need unwilling Europeans. We desperately need willing Europeans,” Monti said.

For now, British polls are very evenly split between those who want to stay in the union and those who think its time to go.