Foreign secretary Philip Hammond has become the most senior UK cabinet minister to indicate that Britain’s referendum on whether to stay in the EU or leave may be held in June.
“June is certainly a possible date for a referendum,” Mr Hammond told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme this week.
“We’ve always said that once we’ve got a deal on the table that we are able to recommend to the British people, then we would want to get on with it and hold the referendum as soon as practical.”
He cautioned, though, that “we’ve got to see how the process pans out over the next few weeks.”
Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has expressed optimism that he’ll be able to get a deal with fellow EU leaders on renegotiated British membership terms at the bloc’s next summit in February.
With ministers saying 16 weeks are needed to pass legislation setting the date for the vote and for the campaign, that would mean the plebiscite could be held in June or July.
Mr Hammond’s comments echo remarks by David Mundell, the UK’s Scottish secretary, who has said there’s a “strong argument” for holding the vote in June, even though it would be just a few weeks after the Scottish Parliament elections on May 7.
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