Cameron denied being a "little Englander", saying the UK should take part in the "global race" - but stand up for its interests at the "top table" of international institutions, including the European Union, speaking at a construction site in London yesterday (10 June).
The UK prime minister said the global economic race meant "that to succeed, it's no use hiding away from the world - we've got to roll our sleeves up and compete in it".
He promised to renegotiate the UK's relations with the EU and offer an in/out referendum on membership, but also insisted that the UK should remain in the EU.
"It's no use giving in to the world - we've got to be unashamedly bold and hard-headed about pursuing our national interests," said the Conservative prime minister.
EU is a place at the top table for the UK
He said a key part of his international ambitions for the UK "is our place at the top table. At the UN. The Commonwealth. NATO. The WTO. The G8. The G20 and yes - the EU".
Cameron said that membership of these organisations “is not national vanity - it is in our national interest”.
"The fact is that it is international institutions, and in them, that many of the rules of the game are set on trade, tax and regulation. When a country like ours is affected profoundly by those rules, I want us to have a say on them," he explained.
He said the UK was "seeking to shape a new settlement in Europe, to get a better deal for Britain in it and to equip Europe as a whole to compete in the world".
"This is about boldly pursuing our interests - not by withdrawing from the world but engaging with it," Cameron added.