David Cameron will enlist the support of the Dutch when he makes a bid to take back powers from Brussels in a long awaited speech on the EU, it has been reported.
According to The Sun the prime minister will travel to The Hague in the Netherlands on 22 January where he will promise British voters an in/out referendum in 2018 if the Conservative Party is returned to power at the next election.
The paper reports that Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte will support Cameron’s call for more powers and money to be returned to individual EU nations.
On Thursday Nick Clegg, no doubt aware of Cameron’s planned trip, joked with journalists about the coalition partners’ different views on Britain’s membership of the EU.
“As a native Dutch speaker I will be at hand to give a translation from double-Dutch to just Dutch,” the Lib Dem leader said.
Cameron has kept his eurosceptic backbenchers waiting for quite some time to deliver his EU speech, with a large proportion of Tory MPs unlikely to satisfied with anything less than a promise to hold an in/out referendum.
However Cameron’s desire to fashion a looser relationship with the EU could prove tricky. Yesterday a delegation of German MPs told the prime minister not to “blackmail” the rest of Europe with threats.
Washington will be watching Cameron’s speech closely, with the Obama administration having warned Britain on Wednesday not to turn “inwards” with a referendum.
Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary for European affairs, made clear that the United States favoured a “strong British voice” within the EU.
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