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EU leaders warn British PM over referendum pledge

Published on Jan 24, 2013 5:50 AM
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on 'the future of the European Union and Britain's role within it', in central London, on January 23, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Prime Minister David Cameron promised on Wednesday to give the British people a vote on European Union (EU) membership, sparking immediate criticism from his main European partners.

In a long-awaited speech in London, Mr Cameron vowed to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 giving voters the choice of staying in or leaving the EU if his Conservative Party wins the next election in 2015.

He said he wanted to renegotiate the terms of Britain's troubled EU membership before putting the new agreement to a vote.

But Europe's power couple France and Germany said Britain could not pick and choose its rules in the 27-nation bloc, with French President Francois Hollande warning that Britain's relationship with the EU was not up for renegotiation.

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