A DEAL struck by David Cameron following two days of gruelling talks with European Union leaders in Brussels will provide the UK with “special status”, the PM says, and he has pledged to campaign with his heart and soul to remain within the EU.
Arrived at late on Friday, February 19, the agreement will provide the UK with some power to limit benefits for EU migrants and also includes a change of treaty to free the UK from bounds to ever closer unions with other member states, Cameron reported.
Yet exit campaigners are claiming the deal is a hollow one which offers only very minor changes.
European Council president Donald Tusk has announced the agreement to renegotiate the UK’s membership, tweeting: “Deal. Unanimous support for new settlement for #UKinEU.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the reforms may well “elicit support in the UK for the country to remain in the EU,” while Tusk said it “strengthens Britain’s special status” and EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said it was “fair”.
Tusk later declared: “We didn’t walk away from the negotiating table. We were willing to sacrifice part of our interests for the common good, to show our unity.
“I deeply believe the UK needs Europe and Europe needs the UK. But the final decision is in the hands of the British people.”
The deal paves the way for a long expected in/out referendum on EU membership in the UK, which was promised by the end of 2017 but is expected to be held in June this year.
Cameron was due to brief his ministers at a cabinet meeting on Saturday (February 20), following which the ministers would be free to campaign for either side in the referendum.