LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that he won't quit even if Britons vote to leave the European Union, as campaigning for the globally-watched referendum on Thursday (June 23) enters the final day.
“As far as I am concerned this referendum should settle the matter,” he said in an interview on Tuesday with the Financial Times, giving a clear warning to Eurosceptic lawmakers of his ruling Conservative Party to accept the verdict of the people, not carry on fighting the same war.
Mr Cameron indicated in the interview that he wants to focus on what happens after a Remain vote, when he hopes to quickly reassert his authority both at Westminster and in Europe.
He will travel to Brussels next Tuesday for an EU summit. He claimed a Remain vote would make him a “strengthened” figure in Europe, better able to promote a British agenda.
He said he would push for new trade deals and new co-operation in fighting terrorism — Britain holds the EU presidency next year — as well as for wider economic reform.
“We are the reformers,” he said. “Reform ends if we leave, not just for us but also our friends in Europe who want our voice heard in Europe.”
He also insisted that he had no regrets calling for a plesbicite on Britain's future in the 28-nation bloc back in 2013.
“In the end you have got to ask and answer this question,” he told the Financial Times. “Europe has changed a lot since the 1970s. If not now, we would have to have this [vote] in the future.”
The newspaper noted that in reality Mr Cameron's hand was forced by increasingly restive MPs in his party worried about the rise of the anti-EU nationalist United Kingdom Independence Party.
The race remains too close to call. A poll by Survation gave “Remain” 45 per cent and “Leave” 44 per cent, with 11 per cent undecided. The websites of six major bookmakers showed the odds heavily pointing to a “Remain” vote, with the likelihood of Britain staying in put at around 80 per cent, Agence France-Presse reported.
The latest surveys were mostly conducted after the brutal murder of Jo Cox, a 41-year-old opposition pro-EU lawmaker and mother of two, who was shot and stabbed in her northern English constituency on Thursday.
Her widower has described her killing as politically motivated.