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Cameron pledges EU referendum to see off UKIP threat

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to introduce legislation to ensure that a referendum is held on Britain's membership of the EU, in an attempt to avert the growing electoral threat from Ukip.

Mr Cameron who has described Ukip supporters as "fruitcakes", said yesterday that he was prepared to introduce legal safeguards before the end of the current parliament to guarantee that a referendum takes place after the general election. Previously he has promised a vote only if he is re-elected.

The legislation would be designed to demonstrate that he is committed to calling an in-out vote by 2018 after Ukip and other sceptics claimed his pledge was meaningless.

The introduction of the legislation in the coming months would throw down the gauntlet to Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, who would have to make their position clear on a referendum.

Ukip is expected to enjoy another surge in support today in local government elections. The party, led by Nigel Farage, is forecast to win more than 20pc of the vote, with some predicting that Mr Cameron's party will lose up to 500 council seats.

Ukip has campaigned well on the claim that Mr Cameron's existing promise of a referendum is "jam tomorrow".

Having previously dismissed the Ukip threat, the prime minister is now taking the party seriously and is attempting to address the policy issues raised by its surge in support. "So anything we can do to strengthen that . . . I'm prepared to consider," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent