Britain's Cameron says he wants to remain PM until 2020
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British Prime Minister David Cameron. REUTERS photoDavid Cameron said Sunday 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 on Monday, 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.
He said that because the countries using the euro were forced to make changes to their relationship to bolster the currency, Britain was "perfectly entitled" to ask for changes to the conditions of its membership.
On the domestic front, Cameron insisted there would be no u-turn to a move due to kick in on Monday to remove child welfare payments from families in which one parent earns more than 60,000 (73,800 euros, $96,430).
Defending the government's latest bid to slash the deficit through cuts in public spending, Cameron said: "I'm not saying those people are rich, but I think it is right that they make a contribution.
"This will raise 2 billion a year. If we don't raise that 2 billion from that group of people -- the better-off 15 percent in the country -- we would have to find someone else to take it from."
Britain would fight to keep the Falklands: Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday 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.
Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner said this week Britain was forcibly stripped of the Falklands 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.
In an interview on BBC TV, he said: "I get regular reports on this entire issue because I want to know that our defences are strong, our resolve is extremely strong." Asked if 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.
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 left 255 British soldiers and 649 Argentinian troops dead.