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October 1, 2020

UK risks ‘turning inwards’ over EU referendum

The Obama administration has publicly expressed concern about the impact of a UK referendum on its future relationship with the EU, BBC reports.Philip Gordon, a senior official in the US State Department, said it was in America’s interests to see a “strong British voice within the EU”. “Referendums have often turned countries inwards,” he added.The comments come as David Cameron prepares to make a major speech later this month on future European policy.In response, No 10 said: “The US wants an outward-looking EU with Britain in it, and so do we.”The prime minister is facing pressure to hold a referendum on Europe at some stage during the next Parliament and has said the Conservatives will offer voters “real change” and “real choice” on the UK’s position in Europe at the next election – scheduled for 2015.Mr Cameron wants the UK to remain within the EU but believes there is a need to redefine the relationship in light of moves towards further integration by countries using the single currency. He has suggested “fresh consent” for any new deal that emerges as a result of negotiations with other EU countries could be sought from the UK public.However, many Conservative MPs want him to go further and to commit to a referendum on the question of whether the UK remains in the EU or not – a so-called “in-out vote” he does not support. Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary for European affairs in the State Department, was asked about the possibility of a UK referendum ahead of a meeting with Europe minister David Lidington in London. Mr Gordon told journalists that the UK would always be a key ally of the US and that “what is in the UK’s interests is up to the UK”.But he added: “We have a growing relationship with the EU as an institution, which has an increasing voice in the world, and we want to see a strong British voice in that EU. That is in America’s interests. We welcome an outward-looking EU with Britain in it.”

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