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British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in London yesterday.
LONDON: David Cameron yesterday said he wanted to serve as British prime minister until at least 2020 to oversee a range of reforms including a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Europe.
In a raft of interviews ahead of a midterm review of the progress of his coalition government today, Cameron also defended a largely unpopular decision to remove child benefit payments from higher earners.
Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph he intended to lead his Conservative Party to victory in the 2015 general election and then serve a full five-year term.
As Cameron rarely speaks about his planned departure date, it has prompted speculation that if re-elected he would stand down halfway through his mandate.
But when asked by the newspaper if he intended to stay on as prime minister until 2020, Cameron said: “I want to fight the next election, win the next election and serve — that is what I want to do.”
Pressed on what he would say in a major speech on Britain’s strained relationship with the European Union that he is due to give in mid-January, Cameron said his party would offer voters a “real choice” at the 2015 election.
He said any vote on Britain’s relationship with the EU would happen in the five years after the election, but he refused to be drawn on whether a poll would include the question whether Britain should remain in the bloc.
“People should be in no doubt that the Conservatives will be offering at the next election a real choice and a real way giving consent to that choice,” he said in an interview on BBC TV.
He stressed it was in Britain’s economic interest to remain a full member of the EU to enable the country to influence the direction of the single market.
“If we were outside the EU all together, we’d still be trading with all these EU countries, but we’d have no say over the rules of the market into which we sell,” Cameron said.
Cameron also said that Britain was prepared to fight militarily to keep the Falkland Islands if necessary, in the face of renewed Argentinian rhetoric over their future. Cameron said Britain had “strong defences” in place on the islands and fast jets and troops were stationed there.
President Cristina Kirchner said this week that Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Falklands by Britain in “a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism” and demanded they be handed over to Argentina.
Cameron insisted he was “absolutely clear” that Britain would defend the islands with military force.
“I get regular reports on this entire issue because I want to know that our defences are strong, our resolve is extremely strong,” Cameron said.
Asked whether Britain would fight to keep the islands, he replied: “Of course we would, and we have strong defences in place on the Falkland Islands, that is absolutely key, that we have fast jets stationed there, we have troops stationed on the Falklands.”
Cameron said this week that the 3,000 residents of the Falklands had a strong desire to remain British and would have a chance to express their views in a referendum on their political status to be held in March.
The islanders are expected to vote strongly in favour of continued union with Britain.
Census data released in September showed that 95 percent of residents considered themselves to be either Falkland islanders, British, or from Saint Helena, another British overseas territory in the South Atlantic.
Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, prompting Britain’s then prime minister Margaret Thatcher to send a naval taskforce to successfully reclaim the islands in a war that claimed the lives of 255 British and 649 Argentinian soldiers.