David Cameron will promise to hold an ‘in-out’ referendum on Britain’s European Union membership by the end of 2017 in a speech tomorrow.
The Prime Minister will for the first time declare himself in favour of a straight choice, but will say it should not happen until the future shape of the 27-nation bloc is clear.
And he will make clear that he will campaign for continued membership of a “more flexible, adaptable and open” EU.
In a major speech in London, Mr Cameron will say that the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election will ask for a mandate to negotiate a “new settlement” for Britain in Europe.
Enabling legislation would be drafted before the election and passed by the end of 2015 to complete the renegotiation and then submit it to voters in a referendum within the first half of the next five-year Parliament.
“It is time for the British people to have their say,” Mr Cameron will say.
“It is time to settle this European question in British politics…I say to the British people: this will be your decision. And when that choice comes, you will have an important choice to make about our country’s destiny.”
Mr Cameron was initially planning to make his speech in the Netherlands last Friday, but had to postpone it in order to focus on the Algerian hostage crisis.
More than six months in the planning, the address has been so often delayed that the PM joked he was taking a “tantric” approach to policy.
It comes amid growing Tory backbench concern about the rising tide of support the UK Independence Party, which has recorded poll ratings of 10% or more with its call for an immediate in/out poll.