1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Britain EU referendum date set

February 20, 2016

British PM David Cameron has said a long-planned referendum on his country's EU membership will take place on June 23. The announcement comes after an EU summit secured Britain a special status in the bloc.

David Cameron
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Tallis

Cameron announced the date following a meeting with his Cabinet to discuss the "special status" agreement struck with the European Union (EU) on Friday.

He said the Cabinet would recommend that the UK remain in the EU in its reformed state, emphasizing what he said would be the benefits to the country. The press office at 10 Downing Street tweeted this message:

Saturday's address came a day after Cameron struck a deal with other EU countries in Brussels and secured special concessions for Britain, including restricting EU migrants' welfare benefits and opting out of the obligation to build an "ever closer union."

Political observers had already expected the prime minister to announce June 23 as the referendum date, when UK citizens will decide whether they want their country to remain in the 28-member bloc.

"I do not love Brussels, I love Britain," Cameron told UK citizens in a public address on Saturday, adding that the question was whether Britain would be "safer, stronger and better off" working in a reformed Europe.

The prime minister said he believed Britain would be more secure if it stayed within the European Union.

Strong 'out' campaign

Meanwhile, the campaign for Britain to leave the EU is gaining momentum in Britain, with 65 of the 330 members of Cameron's Conservative party in the parliament wanting Britain to opt out of the bloc.

Many opposition politicians dismissed Friday's agreement. Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn of the Labour Party said Cameron had done "what he decided he had to do because he was too weak to stand up to his political party." Labour Party Chief Jeremy Corbyn, who supports Britain's membership in the EU, described Cameron's trip to Brussels as a "theatrical sideshow… designed to appease his opponents within the conservative party."

"Dave's deal is not worth the paper it's written on. ... We are being asked to remain in a union that now resembles a burning building," Nigel Farage of the anti- EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) said. "There is an exit door. I suggest we take it," he added.

mg/tj (dpa, AP)