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Cameron 'not heartbroken' if Britain leaves EU

01.10.2014 16:16

Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain's departure from the European Union would not leave him heartbroken, emphasizing he feels "1,000 times more strongly about the UK than the EU."

Speaking on the BBC's Today program, the PM said the union is "not working properly" for Britons at present. Cameron suggested the best solution for Britain is to secure a "reformed position in the EU," because it's ultimately a trading nation. The Tory leader argued the UK government does not merely want access to EU markets, but also wishes to retain leverage over trade regulations that underpin those markets.

The state's future membership of the EU is a "matter of important pragmatism," Cameron said, rather than one of possible heartbreak ? a phrase he issued prior to the Scottish independence referendum. While he acknowledged it "is going to be tough" to renegotiate the UK's standing on the European stage, he said he was confident he would be successful in doing so.

Cameron added that widespread dissatisfaction across Europe ? stemming from euro-driven integration throughout the region ? would give Britain extra leverage in negotiating its EU membership status. The PM's efforts to renegotiate Britain's EU membership terms drew extra support in May following rising dissent against Brussels, which surfaced during the European elections.

Cameron's comments were issued just one day after John Redwood, a Conservative former cabinet minister, warned high-ranking corporate executives who publicly back Britain's EU membership will face a "very dear economic and financial price."

Redwood, a prominent figure within the Conservative Party's eurosceptic wing, warned UK-based firms to "keep out" of the debate, insisting they should beware of meddling in politics. Speaking at a fringe gathering, he suggested eurosceptics would seek to destabilize pro-EU executives.

"[We] will then make life difficult for them by making sure that their customers, their employees and their shareholders who disagree with them ? and there will be a lot who disagree with them ? will be expressing their views very forcefully and will be destabilizing their corporate governance," Redwood said.

Reflecting on his hawkish comments, Labour MP Barry Sheerman said the eurosceptic had "finally flipped."

Katja Hall, deputy director-general of Britain's most prolific business lobby CBI, also criticized Redwood's rhetoric.

"On an issue of such great importance to the UK's economic future, business has both the right and duty to be involved in the debate. The vast majority of businesses are clear that Britain's continued membership of a reformed EU is in the country's interest," she said.

Cameron has recently faced increasing pressure to harden his stance on Europe in the wake of a series of defections by eurosceptic Tories to Nigel Farage's UK Independence Party. The defectors collectively suggested the prime minister would be unlikely to retain his promise to hold an EU membership referendum in 2017, should the Tories manage to cling to power in the aftermath of Britain's upcoming general election.

But Cameron indicated on Sunday he has not entirely ruled out the state's departure from the EU. "If I thought that it wasn't in Britain's interests to be in the European Union, I wouldn't argue for us to be in it," he said.