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Europe

British EU membership referendum 'dangerous', French FM warns Cameron

media Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron announces plans to hold a referendum … Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

Britain cannot have a Europe à la carte, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned on the day that UK Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on European Union (EU) membership if his Conservative Party is reelected to office.

You can’t do Europe à la carte,” Fabius told France Info radio on Wednesday morning.

In a meeting with British businessmen recently he had promised to “roll out the red carpet” for them if the UK quits the EU, he said, in a dig at Cameron’s prediction that French entrepreneurs would flee to London to escape President François Hollande’s tax rises for the rich.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Cameron, under pressure from Europhobe MPs in his own party and the right-wing UK Independence Party, announced that he would organise a referendum on EU membership before 2017 if he wins victory in the next election, which must be held before 2015.

The UK prime minister said he believed his country would be better off staying in the EU but repeated calls for some powers to be taken away from Brussels given back to governments, as he has previously demanded.

Fabius insisted that, even if Britain is an atypical EU member, which has withdrawn from the Schengen agreement and receives a rebate on its budget contributions, it cannot pick and choose what it puts in and gets out of the bloc.

“Europe, let’s suppose it was a football club, you join the club, but once you’re in it, you can’t say ‘let’s play rugby’,” he said.

Fabius warned that the referendum plan could be dangerous for Britain, because life could become “difficult” for the country outside Europe.

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