Cameron says U.S. backs bid to alter EU membership

LONDON Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:26pm GMT

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street in London December 19, 2012. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street in London December 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Friday sought to counter perceptions of discord with the United States over the European Union, saying U.S. President Barack Obama had told Prime Minister David Cameron that he supported his drive to renegotiate Britain's EU membership.

Relations between the two close allies came under the spotlight earlier this week after a senior U.S. official made a rare and forceful foray into what is an emotive domestic debate, saying Washington wanted Britain to stay in the EU - a position not shared by a majority of the British public as well as hardliners in Cameron's own ruling Conservative party.

But Cameron's spokesman said on Friday that the two governments saw eye to eye on the issue and that Obama and the prime minister had discussed the subject in a phone call the week before Christmas.

"The prime minister took the president through our approach to the EU and the president was supportive of it," the spokesman told reporters in London.

"He (Obama) is supportive of the prime minister's view that Britain's national interest is to be within the EU but to change the relationship with the EU."

Cameron is expected to deliver a major speech later this month in which he will set out which powers he wants Britain to repatriate from the 27-member EU, along with the terms of a historic vote on the subject that could help define Britain's role in international affairs for decades.

The intervention by Philip H. Gordon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, was the first time a U.S. official had made such comments in public.

It created the impression that Washington was anxious about Cameron's plan to reshape Britain's EU ties and provoked a furious response from hardliners inside the ruling Conservative party who felt the United States was interfering in a domestic matter.

But both countries have since been keen to play down the significance of Gordon's comments.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stressed on Thursday that any decision on EU ties was for the British government and people to make, saying Gordon's comments merely restated what she said was a well-known U.S. position on the subject.

"We generally don't have assistant secretaries of state going out and giving press conferences and freelancing," Nuland said. "Assistant Secretary Gordon very much spoke for the administration."

In London, the prime minister's spokesman has also played down any idea of a rift, saying Cameron agreed with Gordon in so far as he also wanted to see "an outward-looking EU with Britain in it".

George Osborne, the British Chancellor, meanwhile ratcheted up government rhetoric on the EU, saying the bloc would have to be reformed if Britain was to remain a member.

"I very much hope that Britain remains a member of the EU. But for us to remain in the EU, the EU itself has to change," he told the German daily newspaper Die Welt.

"The British population is very disappointed by the EU, and people have the sense that too many decisions are made too far away in Brussels."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she believes Britain's place is in the EU, but the head of the German parliament's influential EU Affairs Committee warned Britain on Thursday against trying to "blackmail" other countries in its push to fashion a new relationship with Europe.

Cameron faces a dilemma. Many MPs in his own Conservative Party are pressuring him to call a full-fledged referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU - a demand backed by opinion polls which show a majority of Britons would, if given the chance, vote to leave the bloc.

But business leaders in Britain have said they are strongly opposed to the prospect of the country radically downgrading ties with its biggest trading partner.

International partners from the United States to Germany and Ireland have made it clear they oppose a British EU exit - "Brixit" - and believe that such a move would isolate and damage Britain itself.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in Washington and Mohammed Abbas in London; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (8)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
The ‘Golden Goose’ can sit in a number of nests…

The crowded and subprime EU one, and the exciting new nest project within Eurasia. (EEU)

Jan 11, 2013 2:16pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
ektope wrote:
The Americans rule UK !!!!1

Jan 11, 2013 3:16pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
DR9WX wrote:
What is happening? The US has many problems of it’s own. External wars and fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings. Suddenly, Obama is a Euro and UK expert?

This is ridiculous. The planet is in a recession and we have the American Muppet reassuring the UK Muppet that he is doing the right thing.

Seriously, these people have no clue. While the workers are being productive the Muppet’s spend and spend and spend. Eventually, the workers are unable to support all the spending. We are now well beyond that particular point. What do the Muppets do? Reassure everyone that their particular Muppet is doing the right thing. All the Muppet’s stand together or have wars with each other.

The productive people carry on doing their best, well done. Just don’t expect the Muppets to behave differently.

Unreal. The Euro countries are in a mess. Japan is in a mess. USA is in a mess. The UK is in a mess. China wants to know why we have stopped buying as much ‘stuff’ from them. What a mess.

The mess is caused by too much debt. The Muppets are addressing this problem by borrowing money from the central banks and giving it other banks. But that isn’t enough. So each Muppets Central bank is buying other Muppets debt. For example Japan are going to start buying Euro bonds aka debt.

I could go on, it is both true and unbelievable. Suffice it to say that the bits of paper with numbers on are bits of paper that have been spoiled by someone printing numbers on them.

Massive Government debt is being bought by Central Banks and our massive pension investments. As has always been the case. However, the returns are at their lowest ever. You might ask why? Well, find out for your self. I have a job and this isn’t it.

I did explain everything in a long post which was accepted by Reuters and then was deleted. That’s annoying.

Raymond, is usually spot on but in this instance he has made a small typo, he is missing the letter ‘h’ from the word sit.

Delete away, I am going to start ignoring the Muppet’s as they are making no sense. They aren’t addressing the problems. They are the problems.

Main stream media are as dumb and toothless as the people who watch it.

Anyone I have not offended yet?

Try thinking, it is hard but not as hard as working all your life for a pension that is worth nothing.

Your wealth, should you have any, is being melted away with inflation. The Muppets are spending it. It is our fault. We elect whoever promises us the most free stuff. Unfortunately it isn’t actually free and the Government are not very efficient.

But what do I know, I am not an Economist, a Banker, a Central Banker or a politician. Surely, they must know what they are doing? No, they don’t. They think they do which is far worse.

Blah blah blah. Watch ’1984′ every day for a year or until you ‘get it’. You work, you save for a pension, they spend your taxes and steal your wealth with inflation. Anyway, you seem to like it so carry on. Expect your children to have a lower standard of living than you. Expect your Grand children to hate you because at some point they will know what I know. We are squandering the worlds resources as fast as we are able.

One more prediction, at some point our grand children will be held directly accountable for us. They will have to feed and clothe us. Unfortunately, they will struggle to feed and clothe themselves. Their choice will be simple. If they want children they will have to euthanise us. My choice would be made instantly, I would euthanise us immediately just to eat better.

This Civilisation peaked in 2000. We will now decline until the next civilisation starts. It won’t be anything like this one.

Thanks for reading and have a good evening.

Jan 11, 2013 6:34pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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