British press weighs up Cameron's pledge for EU referendum
LONDON (AFP) - The British press today broadly welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron's promise of a referendum on EU membership, but warned that the premier had taken a huge political gamble.
Right-leaning newspapers hailed Wednesday's pledge as a deft political move that would pacify the eurosceptic wing of Mr Cameron's Conservative party, which has long been bitterly divided over Britain's relationship with the European Union. "Yes, Prime Minister!" read the jubilant headline of the Daily Mail tabloid, adding: "Now go on and finish the job, Mr Cameron." The Telegraph said it was "an audacious and momentous step, and one deserving of the highest praise".
In Wednesday's long-awaited speech, Mr Cameron vowed to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 giving voters the choice of staying in or leaving the EU if the Conservatives win the next election in 2015.
Mr Cameron said he wanted to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership before putting the new agreement to a vote, sparking criticism from European partners who accused Britain of trying to pick and choose its own rules.