Yep: British PM Cameron will propose a referendum on an EU exit route

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been angling after certain reforms for the UK from within the European Union’s collectivist rule system that would allow the Brits to gain back some regulatory sovereignty in certain policy arenas, including employment, crime, and justice — and he’s been semi-threatening to hold a nationwide referendum on the country’s membership in the EU if he doesn’t get them.

The issue of the UK’s involvement in Europe has been gaining some serious political steam, with a growing faction supporting a separation, and Brits have been waiting for months on the PM’s much-teased “big Europe speech” in which the government has been promising he’ll explain his proposals. The speech is finally slated to happen on Wednesday after a postponement from last Friday, the WSJ reports:

Mr. Cameron plans to say that, if elected in 2015, a Conservative government would renegotiate the U.K.’s relationship with the EU, and then hold a referendum on the new settlement in the first half of its five-year parliamentary term. …

While many people had focused on the risk of Greece leaving the euro zone, the promise of a referendum by Mr. Cameron would raise the prospect of an exit by a far-more essential member—one of the bloc’s biggest economies and its most important financial center. …

Mr. Cameron plans to say that British people feel the EU is heading in a direction the country never signed up for, suffering interference from what are seen in some quarters as unnecessary EU rules and regulations. …

Anti-Europe sentiment in the U.K. is at some of its highest levels since the early 1980s. And, frustrations with the EU are more pronounced among Conservatives, with opinion polls having shown support shifting away from the Tories to the U.K. Independence Party, whose main goal is Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

One of the much-discussed tactical problems with the threat of a so-called “Brexit” was that Cameron himself doesn’t actually support the idea. He’s affirmed that he thinks EU membership is in Britain’s best interests, i.e., it looked like he was making an impotent threat; but taking the matter out of his own hands and putting it to a national vote is a horse of a different color. I doubt that many globalist-loving, quasi-to-full socialist EU members would be willing to work out special independence exemptions for one of the bloc’s more robust economies, but I’d imagine the panic of a referendum will likely put them into a much more negotiable mood.

The Obama administration has already made it clear that they would prefer that the UK remain in the European Union and stop messing around with an option that would certainly cause an at least short-term readjustment period of financial downturn — and some more rightward-leaning British pols didn’t take well to that at all.

Nearby France isn’t particularly pleased about the matter, either:

France has warned David Cameron against seeking an EU “à la carte”, amid clear annoyance in Paris over the British prime minister’s stance on Europe.

“France wants the UK to stay in the EU. It gains much from UK membership in many areas, including defence and energy. But what is clear is that nobody in Europe can accept that a state can pick and choose [which rules it accepts],” said a senior official in President François Hollande’s administration. …

“It is not just annoying to France, it is annoying to everybody, and that goes for those who would be the natural allies of Britain. If Britain thinks it can blackmail us, it will have to think again. Europe is at too critical a moment that anyone would want to allow Britain to complicate the situation even more.”

…Said the self-declared socialists. Womp.