No second referendum: Cameron

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron travels to the Houses of Parliament in Britain, on Feb 22 , 2016.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron travels to the Houses of Parliament in Britain, on Feb 22 , 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS • Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament yesterday that there would be no second European Union referendum, knocking down suggestions that Britain could vote "no" in the June vote to try to get better membership terms.

"Sadly, I have known a number of couples who have begun divorce proceedings but I do not know any who have begun divorce proceedings in order to renew their marriage vows," he said, referring to the possibility of a second vote.

Earlier, London Mayor Boris Johnson said he would support the "out" campaign, increasing the chance of a British exit from the European Union, or Brexit. But he seemed to suggest that a "no" vote could get a better deal by saying "they (the EU) only really listen to a population when it says 'no' ".

Mr Cameron also warned that Brexit would threaten Britain's economic and national security, as the pound plunged on Brexit concerns.

"Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security," he said in a report to Parliament after dozens of MPs from his own Conservative Party said they would vote for Brexit, including Mr Johnson.

Mr Cameron has called for an in-out referendum on Britain's EU membership after securing a deal on reforms at a summit in Brussels last week.

"When it comes to people's jobs, it is simply not enough to say it will be all right on the night and we will work it out," he told Parliament.

"We need to properly face up to the economic consequences of a choice to leave," he said, warning that it would be "a great leap into the unknown".

Mr Cameron also warned about global threats from Russia and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group, saying: "The challenges facing the West today are genuinely threatening... In my view, this is no time to divide the West."

In a barb at party rival Mr Johnson, Mr Cameron said: "I have no other agenda than what is best for our country."

Mr Johnson, who is seen as a potential successor to Mr Cameron as Conservative leader and prime minister, has been accused of pursuing political ambitions with his decision.

The London Mayor electrified the political landscape on Sunday by throwing his weight behind the campaign for a Brexit, which until then had been marred by in-fighting and a lack of leadership.

"Cameron's worst fear," the right-wing Daily Telegraph said of Mr Johnson's declaration, while the left-leaning Daily Mirror said it was a "Dagger in Cam's heart".

Five Cabinet ministers have already declared themselves in favour of the "Leave" campaign and reports suggest around a third of Mr Cameron's 330 lawmakers could back a Brexit.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'No second referendum: Cameron'. Print Edition | Subscribe