Brexit: The Views of Cameron’s Counterparts
Brexit has become a distinct possibility. In 2014 David Cameron managed to win a referendum to keep one union together – will he be able to pull off the same trick to keep Britain in the EU? Keeping his EU partners on side will be key – but what are their negotiating positions?
After surprising everyone, including himself, by winning the 2015 UK general election with an overall majority the UK’s prime minister David Cameron had no choice but to make good on his campaign promise to offer Britons a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. Himself a supporter of the UK’s continued membership of a reformed EU, he has to work hard to deliver the reforms that he can sell back to the British to convince them to stay. Having won the Scottish independence referendum to keep one union together, will he be able save the integrity of another?
The UK’s foreign secretary Philip Hammond has said that failure to deliver on “big areas of concern” will lead to losing the referendum, and David Cameron has asked his European partners to be “flexible an imaginative” towards British demands. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said that keeping the UK in the EU is a top priority. He has put his money where his mouth is by appointing Jonathan Faull, one of the top British officials in the Commission, to take charge of the prereferendum negotiations.
EU leaders will work hard to avoid losing the UK. But whether they show the level of flexibility and imagination Cameron will eventually ask of them is the killer question. Some have already set down red lines. Others are frustrated at the seemingly unending demands for concessions from the UK and want to answer the ‘British question’ once and for all.