LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron urged MPs on Wednesday (Feb 3) to unite behind his drive to agree a series of European Union reforms at a Brussels summit next month ahead of Britain's EU membership referendum.
"Let's fight this together," Mr Cameron said as he defended a series of draft proposals put forward by the European Council president on Tuesday that have angered eurosceptics from his own Conservative Party.
"I do believe that with these draft texts... Britain is getting closer to the decision point," he said in a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Mr Cameron did not give a timing for the referendum but, asked about June 23 - which has been mooted in British newspaper reports -he said the date would not be too soon after regional elections planned for May 5.
The British leader was responding to a joint letter from the first ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales asking for the referendum not to be held in June because of their own elections in May.
He faced criticism from leading eurosceptic MPs including Mr John Redwood and Mr Bill Cash, as well as London mayor Boris Johnson - a political ally who has expressed doubt on the proposals from Brussels.
"We've got a lot more to do on this," Mr Johnson told SkyNews ahead of the debate "The prime minister is making the best of a bad job. Let's wait and see when this whole thing is agreed and try and see what it really means. Every bit of it," he said.
Mr Cameron said the proposals, which cover sovereignty powers of EU member states, protection for non-eurozone states and curbs on welfare payments for EU workers, were "the strongest package we've ever had".
"I believe we are making real progress in all four areas, but the process is far from over. There are details still to be pinned down," he added.
"The question is not could Britain succeed outside the European Union. It's how we would be most successful," he said.