Britain and Europe

London's City, the heart of Britain's financial sector, felt the immediate effects of Cameron's latest EU speech, with the GBP experiencing a sudden dip in its value. Photograph: Olivier Holmey

London’s City, the heart of Britain’s financial sector, felt the immediate effects of Cameron’s latest EU speech, with the GBP experiencing a sudden dip in its value. Photograph: Olivier Holmey

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised on Thursday to hold a referendum on the country’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017. The speech, delayed by recent events in Algeria, is the latest proof of the UK’s growing euroscepticism, with 56% of Britons willing to vote to leave the EU according to an Opinium/Observer poll conducted last November.

Both the opposition Labour party and the Conservatives’ coalition partner the Liberal Democrats oppose the planned referendum.

In Germany, much of the mainstream media is highly critical of this latest announcement, which comes only two days after the UK abstained in a vote to impose a financial transaction tax within Europe. The centre-right Die Zeit newspaper called Mr Cameron’s European policy “absurd”, while the centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung saw the decision as a “huge gamble”. In a commentary published in the Spiegel magazine on Thursday, Christoph Scheuermann interpreted the speech as a “missed opportunity” for the UK to take centre stage again in a continent which craves for its support.

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