by Brendan Donnelly
First published on the European Movement Blog
In public commentaries on Britain’s position in the European Union, reference is often made to the possibility of a European referendum for the UK in 2017. But it is worth stressing that a European referendum for this country in 2017 is only one of a range of possibilities, including earlier or later dates for this referendum, or even its not being held at all.
When the date of 2017 is mentioned for a possible European referendum in the United Kingdom, it is usually based upon Mr. Cameron’s proposal that a Conservative government elected in 2015 would as one of its first tasks restructure or “renegotiate” the terms of British membership of the European Union. These new terms of membership of the European Union would then be put to a referendum in or before 2017, a referendum in which presumably Mr. Cameron would urge a “yes” vote. This proposal has attracted a wide but not universal measure of support within the Conservative Party. A number of question marks nevertheless hang over its implementation.