British Prime Minster David Cameron has set a deadline to hold a national in-out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) by the end of 2017.
In his long-awaited speech on Europe in the City of London on Wednesday, Cameron pledged to hold an in-out vote on Britain’s future relationship with the EU during the early part of the next parliament, by the end of 2017 at the latest, if his Conservative party wins the 2015 general election.
Setting out the conditions for a future poll, he said, "The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next parliament.”
Cameron, who has come under pressure from Tory rebels to leave the 27-nation bloc, also warned voters that if the UK did decide to leave, it would be "a one-way ticket, not a return".
The British Prime Minister had been scheduled to make the speech in the Netherlands on Friday, but it was postponed because of the Algeria hostage crisis.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Labour leader Ed Miliband said the speech defines the Tory leader “as a weak prime minister, being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest”.
The last time Britain had a referendum was in 1975, when 67 percent of the people voted for the Labour Party in staying in the then European Economic Community.