British Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted he is “confident” of securing reforms in Brussels and indicated he remains open to staging a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union next year.
Mr Cameron admitted he was “not met with a wall of love” as he met European counterparts for the first time since his general election victory and conceded that securing a deal will take “patience and tenacity”.
At a summit in the Latvian capital Riga, the prime minister refused to rule out campaigning for Britain to leave the EU if his renegotiation efforts fail and said it would be “good” if the vote could be held earlier than 2017.
After meetings with EU leaders, he said he would not “negotiate in public” but said there had been a “reasonable start” to yesterday’s talks and the sooner reforms were made, “the better”.
Asked whether he could campaign for the UK to leave the EU, Mr Cameron said: “I’m confident, I’ve set out a series of changes which I think address the main concerns which the British people have, that I have about Europe and the way it works and I’m confident of getting those changes.
“I’ve tried to aim at things that are deliverable and doable rather than things that are impossible.
“But I’ve always said that if I don’t get what I think I need, I rule nothing out.”
He will follow up his discussions in the margins of yesterday’s summit – on relations with former Soviet bloc states outside the EU – with a tour of European capitals, including Berlin and Paris, to explain his thinking in greater depth.
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