EU referendum: Where do Oxfordshire leaders stand?
The British public will now to go the ballot boxes to decide on the country’s membership of the European Union (EU) after marathon discussions in the Belgian capital over the weekend saw Prime Minister David Cameron renegotiate a deal with Europe’s leaders.
Mr Cameron, who is MP for Witney, announced on Saturday a referendum will now be held on Thursday, June 23 on whether Britain should leave the 28-nation union.
The announcement has caused a major rift between in the Conservative Government as cabinet ministers announce which side they will be campaigning for over the coming months.
Speaking outside Downing Street Mr Cameron said: “Last night in Brussels I set out Britain’s new settlement with the European Union.
“We are approaching one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes: Whether to remain in a reformed European Union – or to leave.
“I am the first to say that there are still many ways in which Europe needs to improve – and that the task of reforming Europe does not end with yesterday’s agreement.”
After promising an EU referendum ahead of General Election in May 2015 Mr Cameron travelled to Brussels last Thursday to meet with leaders of member states to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership.
Talks with heads of states, including German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande, lasted through to Saturday morning when Mr Cameron announced an agreement had been reached.
The Prime Minister had four key areas to debate with the EU: financial protection, European competitiveness, migration and powers for UK parliament.
A new agreement now means EU migrants will have to wait four years before accessing full benefits, however this ‘emergency break’ will only last for seven years.
Britain is also no longer committed to the European Union’s philosophy of ‘ever closer union’ with the new agreement stating: “The treaty references to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom.”
The referendum announcement has already caused conflict within Government as some of Mr Cameron’s allies have announced they will campaign against the Prime Minister.
Justice Secretary and close friend of Mr Cameron, Michael Gove, has back the ‘Out’ campaign along with Conservative London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.
Former MP for Henley and London Mayor Boris Johnson also announced on Sunday evening he would be campaigning to leave Europe.
Despite division in his party Mr Cameron told the Sunday Times last week he would not resign as Prime Minister if Britain leaves the EU. |
Oxfordshire county and Oxford city councillor John Tanner (Lab) has criticised the new deal, calling it a ‘pantomime’.
He said: “Britain belongs in the European Union. David Cameron’s pantomime in Brussels changes very little.”