British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union in a speech delivered Wednesday in London.
Cameron, describing British backing for the status quo in Europe as “wafer thin,” said he would put the question to a popular vote by the end of 2017 – if re-elected in two years and once he has negotiated a return of some powers to the U.K.
“It is time for the British people to have their say,” Cameron said. “It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”
Cameron is responding to pressure from lawmakers in his Conservative Party for looser ties with the EU or an outright departure from the 27-nation political union. European leaders have rejected his calls to renegotiate membership terms. His Liberal Democrat coalition partners and the opposition Labour Party also reject the plans and the U.S. has expressed concern.