EU Parliament urges UK to reject Brexit

Senior MEPs back David Cameron's EU membership renegotiation deal.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

22 Feb 2016

Parliament's group leaders have welcomed the deal reached at last week's Council summit on the UK's EU membership renegotiation demands, urging British voters to choose to remain part of the EU.

EPP group Chair Manfred Weber said; "We have a preliminary fair deal. However, where there is light there is also shadow. We support the deal, but we are going to look at the details before making a final evaluation. In any case, we will contribute to the European Parliament’s smooth and speedy adoption of the legislative aspects of the deal."

He insisted that, "the UK belongs in the EU and should stay on board. In concluding this deal, our target was a better Europe. The member states proved that they can act together and find solutions."


Socialist group leader Gianni Pittella agreed, calling the deal a "decent compromise". However, he warned that; "Now history will be watching UK Prime Minister David Cameron's sincere efforts to win the referendum and find a way out of the hole he has dug himself into for both the UK and the European Union."

"The real challenge begins now. We should all do our utmost to persuade British people that there is no single, concrete or rational reason for leaving the EU. It is evident that, in terms of jobs, security and rights, Britain and Britons are better off in the EU. On the contrary, Britain leaving would bring about serious and tangible consequences, first and foremost for British workers and businesses."

Guy Verhofstadt, Chair of Parliament's ALDE group, commented that; "This deal makes it clear that the UK is no longer committed to ever closer union or further political integration, while ensuring those countries who wish to integrate further can do so. The UK will be given a special status in EU law; this is historic. I have no doubt this is the best deal David Cameron could have hoped for and the last one that should be offered."

The Belgian MEP stressed that the British referendum - which will take place on 23 June - was, "about much more than whether Britain stays in or leaves us, it is also about the stability and prosperity of the entire European Union. I, and my group, will strongly campaign for a yes vote."

Greens/EFA group Co-Chairs Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts also urged the UK to remain part of the EU, calling for the discussion leading up to the referendum to, "focus not on the narrow terms of David Cameron's 'deal', but on the real issues about the UK's relationship with the rest of Europe."

"It's time to focus on the genuine benefits to the UK of being part of the EU - and the benefits that the UK brings to the rest of the EU. The EU is about so much more than just the single market - it always has been. British people need to make their decision based on the bigger picture - that Europe's environmental, social and economic challenges are best faced by acting together."

Syed Kamall, Chair of Parliament’s ECR group and a member of Cameron's Conservative party, praised the British Prime Minister for having, "negotiated changes that are not just about the UK, but about wider EU reform, with the power for national parliaments to block EU proposals and a stronger commitment to open markets, freer trade and less red tape. The whole EU will benefit from this agreement in the long run."

The Conservative party faces an internal struggle, as some members have defied Cameron in order to support Brexit. While Kamall has yet to indicate on which side he will campaign, other British members of the ECR group have revealed where they will stand.

Ashley Fox announced he would be campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, saying; "I want us fully engaged with the single market, which is important for British business."

He warned that, "leaving the EU would put our economic recovery at risk. I am not convinced we would secure satisfactory terms were we to leave and I think the EU would change for the worse were we to do so."

Meanwhile, his colleague Emma McClarkin announced she would be campaigning for the UK to leave the Union, complaining that; "This deal unfortunately falls far short of addressing the very real concerns I and the British people have for our membership of the EU. I believe the UK's best interests for a more democratic and prosperous future lie outside the EU."

She argued that; "Renegotiation was always going to be an uphill struggle with other nations gaining far more from EU membership than the UK, and therefore reluctant to amend the status quo."

"The deal contains no return of powers to the UK, no full control of our immigration policy and no treaty change. This deal is simply not going to deliver the reforms the British people want and deserve. It is time to leave."

MEPs will now assess Cameron's deal and vote on key aspects, such as the contentious emergency brake on welfare benefits, before it can become legally binding, should the UK vote to remain in the EU.


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