February 20, 2016 / 7:42 PM / 4 years ago

Highlights - British Prime Minister Cameron sets EU referendum for June 23

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will vote on its membership of the European Union in a referendum set for June 23 after British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed a new deal with EU leaders.

British politicians (L-R) John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel pose for a photograph at the launch of the Vote Leave campaign, at the group's headquarters in central London, Britain February 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

Below are comments on the vote from British political and business leaders:

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

“I do not love Brussels. I love Britain. I am the first to say that there are still many ways in which Europe needs to improve – and that the task of reforming Europe does not end with today’s agreement.

“That is not the question in this referendum. The question is will we be safer, stronger and better off working together in a reformed Europe or out on our own.

“Let me be clear. Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security.”

GEORGE OSBORNE, CHANCELLOR

“We are stronger, and safer and better off in the EU and the alternative is a big leap in the dark with all the risks that that involves.

“We get the best of both worlds, we get access to the single market for our businesses, so that creates jobs, but we don’t have the costs of the euro zone, we have the security of being in the EU but we are not signed up to ever closer union, we end the something for nothing culture when it comes to benefits from migrants - these are big wins.”

PHILIP HAMMOND, FOREIGN SECRETARY

“Reforming the EU does not end with this deal. UK must lead on further reform.

“EU reform deal tilts the balance firmly in favour of the UK remaining in. We’re stronger, safer, better off in (the) EU on these terms than out.”

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY

“Despite the fanfare, the deal that David Cameron has made in Brussels on Britain’s relationship with the EU is a sideshow.

“His priorities in these negotiations have been to appease his opponents in the Conservative Party. He has done nothing to promote secure jobs, protect our steel industry, or stop the spread of low pay and the undercutting of wages in Britain. 

“We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum, regardless of David Cameron’s tinkering, because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers.”

MICHAEL GOVE, JUSTICE MINISTER

“It pains me to have to disagree with the Prime Minister on any issue. My instinct is to support him through good times and bad. But I cannot duck the choice which the Prime Minister has given every one of us.

“I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU.

“I don’t want to take anything away from the Prime Minister’s dedicated efforts to get a better deal for Britain. He has negotiated with courage and tenacity. But I think Britain would be stronger outside the EU.”

ALEX SALMOND, FORMER NATIONALIST LEADER OF SCOTLAND

“I think the referendum across the UK is on a knife-edge, it will depend entirely on how it’s argued. I don’t rate the deal that Cameron has done in Brussels, I think it’s about marginal issues.

“If we were dragged out against our will by the votes of a much larger English (electorate), then the pressure for another independence referendum in Scotland would be irresistible and I think very rapid.”

THERESA MAY, HOME SECRETARY

“The EU is far from perfect, and no one should be in any doubt that this deal must be part of an ongoing process of change and reform – crucial if it is to succeed in a changing world.

“But in my view - for reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world - it is in the national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”

NIGEL FARAGE, HEAD OF UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY

“This is a truly pathetic deal. Let’s leave the EU, control our borders, run our own country and stop handing 55 million pounds every day to Brussels.”

NICOLA STURGEON, LEADER OF THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

“Across the UK the polls suggest this campaign is on a knife-edge and that’s why I think it’s important for the in-campaign to be positive.

“If we get into the situation, where Scotland votes to stay in, the rest of the UK votes to come out, then people in Scotland will have big questions they will want to look at again about whether Scotland should be independent.”

ARLENE FOSTER, LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY, NORTHERN IRELAND

“In our view we see nothing in this deal that changes our outlook. Therefore we will on balance recommend a vote to leave the EU.”

JOHN LONGWORTH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

“Businesses across Britain will be relieved that the horse-trading between Westminster and Brussels is now concluded, and that the hard work of recent months could potentially deliver some benefits for the UK.

“(But) the deal falls well short of the business expectations we set out nearly a year ago.”

Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; editing by Kate Holton and Digby Lidstone

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