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UK parliament to debate EU referendum

Emma Alberici reported this story on Monday, October 3, 2011 08:16:00

TONY EASTLEY: The British parliament is going to consider whether the UK should hold a referendum
on leaving the European Union.

The vote could take place before Christmas after a petition signed by more than 100,000 people was
submitted to British MPs.

UK prime minister David Cameron says he won't support a move to exit the EU altogether, though he
does want its powers significantly reduced.

Here's Europe correspondent Emma Alberici

EMMA ALBERICI: In a week that saw the head of the EU's administrative body, Jose Manuel Barroso ask
for a more federal Europe with central government and closer ties between nations, the rhetoric
coming from Britain was distinctly less collegial.

Prime minister David Cameron spoke to the BBC ahead of the Conservative Party conference in
Manchester.

DAVID CAMERON: But I've always made clear my view that we have given too many powers to Europe and
there are some powers I quite like back from Europe and there may be future opportunities to bring
that about.

EMMA ALBERICI: Since the Tories took government 18 months ago, demands for Britain to exit the
European Union have been growing. The Conservatives are a party proud of their so-called Euro
sceptic past.

It was a popular theme as foreign minister William Hague addressed the party faithful.

WILLIAM HAGUE: Whatever I've been wrong about, when some of us spoke 13 years ago of the deep flaws
in the euro, we were right with every single word.

EMMA ALBERICI: The House of Commons will now hold an historic debate to decide whether the country
should hold a referendum on leaving the EU. The move was forced after a petition organised by
backbench MPs and signed by more than 100,000 people - was submitted to the Parliament.

It will be the first time politicians have held a major vote on seeking the public's view since the
1975 referendum confirming the decision to join the common market but both the prime minister and
the foreign secretary believe the UK's future is brighter as part of the EU but they do want
Brussels to have far less authority over the affairs of its 27 member countries.

David Cameron.

DAVID CAMERON: The problem for Europe right now is dealing with the eurozone problem. That is where
all our energies should go because we have got to solve this problem in order to get the world
economy to grow again.

(Sound of protesters)

EMMA ALBERICI: Thirty five thousand protesters marched on Manchester where the Tories are holding
their annual conference.

VOX POP: We are the first generation, my generation particularly, for decades that is facing life
worse than our parents had it and if we don't fight now what chance has her generation got?

VOX POP 2: There is an attack being made on working class people for an economic crisis that we
haven't caused.

EMMA ALBERICI: The message from inside the conference centre was clear - this government will not
leave the country's debt to the next generation.

This is Emma Alberici in London for AM.