THE BLOG

The UK Must Remain at the EU Table - the PM is Right

23/01/2013 09:54 | Updated 24 March 2013

If you were at all unsure about David Cameron's commitment on IN or OUT of the EU - you only needed to listen or read some of the Prime Minister's closing words in this most hyped of speeches.

"If we left the EU it would be a one way ticket - not a return".

He could not have been clearer as he talked constantly of his view that the UK must remain "at the table" to be able to influence its decisions. He made continued reference to the single market as a prime mover in the UK's economic interests.

This speech did not disappoint and British business will not be disappointed. Whatever you think of David Cameron, this really was a historic speech. David Cameron has an ability to rise to the occasion and he did just that.

The Prime Minister walked a tightrope today - he offered something to his eurosceptic right but also made an impassioned commitment on the benefits of membership. The Twitter from his parliamentary party - left and right - is good so far.

The emphasis on the single market will particularly please business and inward investors who see the UK as the platform for EU investment. The kind of deal the Government struck on banking union in December 2012 is exactly what most businesses I talk to want to see.

A referendum in 2017 - hopefully when Europe has moved out of a state of 'flux' - is a statesmanlike approach. He rejected the false choice of a 'mandate referendum' before 2015 - which is a UKIP trap. It would lay out in front of the British people a new settlement for Europe when they can see the horizon ahead. And I believe the British people will vote to remain IN.

The speech really is a game changer in British politics. It plays all the way to the 2015 General Election. Now it is up to Labour and the Lib Dems to respond - will they give the British people a choice? UKIP will respond but I think the PM has moved today to tempt the support back.

Of course, the real question is just whether or not David Cameron will get that majority at the next General Election and be able to hold that referendum. After his speech the PM said he would aim to hold a referendum even if he is in a Coalition after 2015.

You know, after today, I would not bet against the Prime Minister.