UK should stay in EU, says Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.
It came after it emerged that MPs are set to vote on a referendum within the next few months, after a petition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted calling for the public to be given the chance to decide whether Britain should stay in the EU.
Speaking at the start of the Conservative Party in Manchester, Mr Cameron said he does not believe the UK should quit the EU - and he played down the prospect of the Government repatriating powers from Brussels in the near future.
The Government's immediate priority on Europe is to get the crisis in the eurozone sorted out and revive the continent's economy, he said.
The Commons Backbench Business Committee is expected to set a date before Christmas for a one-day debate in the House of Commons on a referendum on EU membership. The vote will not be binding on the Government, but if MPs back a referendum, it will put massive pressure on Mr Cameron to put the issue to the country.
The committee's Labour chairman Natascha Engel told the Mail on Sunday: "Given the crisis in the eurozone, this issue has become more relevant than ever. There is a clear majority of backbench MPs who want to debate this and we have to respond to that.
"The EU today is completely different from the one the British people voted to join in 1975. It is time to examine the position again.
"For years it has suited successive governments to avoid debating whether Britain should leave the EU. The whole purpose of my committee is to make sure the big issues of the day are aired in Parliament. People in pubs and shops all over Britain are discussing our membership of the EU and it is time MPs openly debated it too."
But Mr Cameron told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "It's not our view that there should be an in/out referendum. I don't want Britain to leave the EU. I think it's the wrong answer for Britain. What most people want in this country is not actually to leave the EU, but to reform the EU and make sure that the balance of powers between a country like Britain and Europe is better."
Mr Cameron said that he wanted to use future treaties to negotiate the return of powers from Brussels to Westminster, but he said this is an ambition "for the longer term" and there is no immediate prospect of treaty changes to make it possible. It did not form part of the current renegotiation of treaties which will keep Britain out of the eurozone bail-out mechanism, he said.