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Sturgeon pledges to 'get on with it'

Cameron sets EU poll date as Cabinet splits

CameronDavid Cameron today announced that the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union will be held on 23 June – and was plunged into an internal battle with his own Cabinet.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had urged the Prime Minister to push the vote back to prevent campaigning on the EU clashing with the Scottish General Election in May. She described it as disrespectful to Scotland and the Scottish voters.

After the date was announced, Ms Sturgeon said she remained concerned about the clash of campaigns, but grudgingly accepted the decision.

She said: “I still think it is the wrong date, not just because of the overlap with the Scottish Parliament elections but also because I think we do need time to have that big, positive debate that I have been talking about.

“But that, in a sense, has passed. The date has been named so it’s time to get on with it.”

She repeated her claim that a vote to leave the EU would be likely to prompt calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

“If we get into the situation, where Scotland votes to stay in, the rest of the UK votes to come out, then people in Scotland will have big questions they will want to look at again about whether Scotland should be independent,” she said.

The vote will clash with the Euro 2016 football championship in France and the Glastonbury Festival, although postal voting arrangements are likely to be in place for those unable to get to polling booths.

Mr Cameron made his announcement after securing an agreement with EU ministers which followed 30 hours of talks in Brussels’ Justus Lipsius building.

However, Mr Cameron faces a battle within his own party after six of his Cabinet members said they would back the Leave campaign.

Mr Cameron said: “The choice goes to the heart of the kind of country we want to be and the future we want for our children. This is about how we trade with neighbouring countries to create jobs, security and prosperity for our families.

“I believe we’ll be safer in a reformed Europe because we can work with our European partners to fight cross-border crime and terrorism; I believe Britain will be stronger in a reformed Europe because we can play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organisations from within, helping to make the big decisions on trade and security that determine our future.

“And I believe we’ll be better off in a reformed Europe because British businesses will have full access to the free trade single market, bringing jobs, investment and lower prices.

“Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security…all they’re offering is a risk at a time of uncertainty – a leap in the dark,” he said.

He is expected to set out a package of measures to boost the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament in an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show tomorrow morning.

His position won the support of Home Secretary Theresa May who said she would be backing the campaign to stay in Europe, along with Justine Greening.

However Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a close friend of Mr Cameron, has indicated he will be campaigning for Britain to leave the bloc alongside Chris Grayling, John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the Prime Minister’s deal “irrelevant”.

He said his party would conduct its own ‘In’ campaign rather than joining a broader campaign with Mr Cameron.

“It’s not going to be a joint campaign; there is going to be a Labour campaign asking people to vote in the direction that I’ve indicated,” he told Sky News.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said business would support the PM’s deal and welcome his reforms.

“UK businesses want to see changes to the EU that will put Europe on the path to a more competitive and prosperous future – the Prime Minister’s reform package looks to be a major step forward on that journey” she said.

“Being part of the Single Market guarantees businesses tariff-free access to 500 million consumers in Europe and is a cornerstone of the UK’s economic success.

“These reforms protect the UK’s place and influence inside this important market and a renewed focus on EU competitiveness will help British firms succeed in creating jobs and economic growth at home in the years ahead. Firms will particularly welcome a commitment to reduce unnecessary regulation.

“Most CBI members – though not all – have told us that being in a reformed EU is better for jobs, growth and prosperity. With a final deal now in place, we will consult our members to ask for their views once again.”

Campaigners setting out their stall

John Edward, campaign spokesman for Scotland Stronger In Europe – the Scottish arm of Britain Stronger In Europe – said: “Scottish votes could be crucial in keeping the UK in Europe, so it is important that Scotland comes together and chooses a future in Europe.

“There is strong support in Scotland to stay in the EU, and we want to motivate people with positive campaigning to turn out and vote for ‘Remain’ on June 23.”

Nigel Griffiths of the Labour Leave campaign said: “Every day £50m is going from the Treasury to Brussels. Only half of that comes back, in fact less, and we don’t get a say in how that’s spent – Brussels dictates that to us – and it’s time to reclaim that.

“Here in Scotland we need a Scottish government to stand up against Brussels and fight for our steel workers and steel industry, our farming industry and our fishing industry, and sadly they are not doing that.”

The EU agreement: What did Mr Cameron achieve?

Migration: a mechanism to limit the access of EU workers newly entering the UK labour market to in-work benefits for a total period of up to four years. Mr Cameron made a crucial concession that the changes would not apply to EU workers already in Britain, only to new arrivals.

Eurozone bail outs: a pledge that the UK will not be on the hook for future bail-outs of eurozone states – specifically, crisis measures to shore up the euro area.

Further integration: It is recognised that the United Kingdom … is not committed to further political integration of member states.

The euro: An apparent recognition, in writing, that while the union’s objective is to establish “an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro” it is also stated that “not all member states have the euro as their currency”. Also, leaders agreed that just one non-euro state can “”indicate their reasoned opposition” to a measure being proposed by the eurozone states.

Waste and red tape:  a pledge by the European Commission to continue cutting red tape, specifically to “continue its efforts to make EU law simpler and to reduce regulatory burden for EU business operators.”




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