LONDON (AA) – Britain’s David Cameron has vowed to campaign “heart and soul” to keep the U.K. inside the European Union after securing a deal renegotiating his country’s membership terms.
Speaking at the end of a mammoth E.U. summit that stretched from Thursday lunchtime to late on Friday night, the U.K. Prime Minister hailed the agreement with European leaders that secures Britain’s “special status” within the 28-member bloc and paves the way for a referendum this summer.
“Britain will be permanently out of ‘ever closer union’, never part of a European superstate,” Cameron told journalists at a news conference.
“I believe that this is enough for me to recommend that the United Kingdom remains in the European Union, having the best of both worlds.
“This is why I will be campaigning with all my heart and soul to persuade the British people to remain in the reformed European Union that we have secured today.”
In a separate news conference on Friday night, European Council President Donald Tusk said the deal was both fair and “legally sound”.
He said: “The deal responds to all the concerns of the U.K., and respects at the meantime the basic principles of our union. And at the same time, it safeguards the integrity of the single market and the cohesion of the eurozone. The deal does not deepen cracks in our union but builds bridges.”
The deal, which was agreed after many hours of talks between European leaders, ensures the E.U. treaties will be amended to explicitly state that the pledge for political ever-closer union do not apply to Britain.
It also established that welfare benefits will be paid to EU migrants at the rate of their home country, irrespective of which member state they are living in, from 2020.
Cameron will take the deal to a meeting of his ministers at 1000 GMT on Saturday morning before announcing a date for Britain’s in-out referendum on EU membership, widely expected to be held on June 23.
Ministers will be permitted to campaign on either side of the issue, with the Justice Secretary Michael Gove expected to argue for a British exit from the EU.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, is the highest profile government politician yet to declare whether he supports continued membership.
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