The UK referendum on EU membership will offer voters the option to say ‘Yes’ to staying in the EU.
The exact wording of the question has yet to be finalized, but media reports on Wednesday suggested it will be a variation on “Should the UK remain a member of the EU?”
The Conservative party, who won a surprise majority in May’s general election, will lay out their plans for a referendum on EU membership in the Queen’s speech – the ceremonial opening of parliament at which the legislative agenda is announced.
The EU referendum bill is expected to be published on Thursday. It will bind the government to holding a referendum by the end of 2017, but will not preclude holding the vote earlier.
David Cameron is understood to favour an early vote, in order to avoid the issue hanging over his second term as prime minister, and clashes with the French and German elections due in spring 2017.
He has promised a process of renegotiation before the vote takes place and will embark on a diplomatic mission to key heads of member states in the coming days.
Cameron, who met Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker over the weekend, hopes to meet all EU leaders ahead of a Council summit in Brussels next month. There he will lay out plans for reform of the EU and its relationship with the UK.
News yesterday of a deal between France and Germany over increased integration among Eurozone nations is seen as a blow to this renegotiation.
The prime minister is looking to take the UK out of the commitment to “ever closer union” and is seeking reassurances of protection of non-eurozone members in the single market.
French newspaper Le Monde, who broke the story, said the deal “shows that French and German leaders do not have much in common with David Cameron.”
It also diminishes the chances of treaty change. Although this might not be strictly necessary for many of the reforms Cameron is seeking it would nonetheless make it easier for him to prove he can make the UK’s voice heard in Europe.