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Cameron holds urgent meeting on EU deal

The British PM is meeting with his cabinet to discuss the United Kingdom’s future in Europe.

British Prime Minister David Cameron. Picture: EPA/Dylan Martinez/Pool.
European Union,David Cameron,European Union EU,EU deal
World Politics

LONDON/BRUSSELS - The British prime minister is holding an urgent meeting of his cabinet to discuss the United Kingdom’s future in Europe.

David Cameron flew home after lengthy talks in Brussels, to renegotiate British membership.

He will now campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union when a referendum is held.

At the summit that ran into overtime, EU leaders agreed unanimously on a package of measures aimed at keeping Britain in the 28-nation bloc to avoid a potentially disastrous divorce.
 
The deal will restrict benefits that migrants can claim in the UK, protects the UK’s financial services industry and leaves Britain outside the 28-nation block.

Cameron won a commitment to change the bloc’s governing treaties in future to recognise that Britain was not bound to any political union and would have safeguards against financial regulation being imposed on the City of London by the euro zone.

Facing an uphill political battle at home, Cameron was concerned to show Britons that he had won concessions that he believes can reduce an influx of EU migrant workers and keep Britain out of any future political integration.

In hours of wrangling with central and east European countries that provide many of Britain's low-paid immigrant workers, he secured the right to curb in-work benefits for up to four years and scale back child benefit for workers whose children remain abroad.

However, for some, that won’t be enough and they’ll get their chance to vote in the national referendum expected to take place in June.  

That group also includes senior members of the government and that’s bound to cause friction in the corridors of power on a matter that has threatened to tear apart the current ruling Conservative Party.

SEMI-DETACHED

Britain is already the EU's most semi-detached member, having opted out of joining the euro single currency, the Schengen zone of passport-free travel and many areas of police and judicial cooperation. Summit chairman Donald Tusk said Britain had long had a special status inside the bloc.

Many leaders said they felt they were at a historic turning point for European integration.

No country has ever voted to leave the Union. Britain is the EU's second-largest economy and one of its two permanent members on the UN Security Council. Its exit would end the vision of the EU as the natural home for European democracies and reverse the continent's post-World War Two march toward “ever closer union”.

The EU issue has divided Cameron’s Conservative Party for decades, crippling his 1990s predecessor John Major and bringing down his hero Margaret Thatcher.

Britain’s largely Eurosceptic press has depicted Cameron as begging or pleading, the Daily Mail describing him as "rattled".

“Shambles as embattled PM’s deal is watered down,” a front-page headline read over a picture of an anxious-looking Cameron.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)


 

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