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British voters to decide in June on EU membership

By Daniel Uria   |   Feb. 20, 2016 at 10:40 AM
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LONDON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday a national referendum to decide if the United Kingdom will remain in the European Union will take place on June 23.

Cameron said voters will take on "one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes," adding the country would be "safer and stronger" by remaining in the 28-nation bloc.

"On Monday...I will go to Parliament and propose that the British people decide our future in Europe through an in-out referendum on Thursday the 23 June," he said outside No. 10 Downing Street. "The choice is in your hands, but my recommendation is clear—I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off in a reformed European Union."

Friday, Cameron reached a deal with EU leaders that would give the U.K. "special status" and negotiated a treaty that would allow them to remain in the union without being tied to an "ever closer union".

The deal established that child benefits for EU migrants living overseas will be paid at a rate based on cost of living in their home countries and allowed the U.K. to place a four-year "emergency brake" on migrants in-work benefits during periods of "exceptional" migration.

"There will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system for EU migrants," Cameron said, according to CNN. "No more something for nothing. Britain will never join the euro and we've secured vital protections for our economy and a full say over the rules of the free trade single-market while remaining outside the euro."

According to the treaty, British businesses will not face "discrimination" for being outside the eurozone and Britain "can never be forced into political integration".

Cameron and other world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hoped the deal would encourage the U.K. to remain in the EU after a poll showed that British voters preferred to leave the union by a 9 percent margin.

Six senior ministers also backed the decision to leave the union, including Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove who said the decision was the most difficult of his political life.

"I believe that the decisions which govern all our lives, the laws we must all obey and the taxes we must all pay should be decided by people we choose and who we can throw out if we want change," he said. "If power is to be used wisely, if we are to avoid corruption and complacency in high office, then the public must have the right to change laws and governments at election time."

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