Britain's Clegg: Cameron EU pledge will damage UK economy

LONDON Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:58am EST

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LONDON Jan 23 (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge to reform Britain's role in the European Union and seek voters' backing in a referendum before the end of 2017 will undermine the fragile UK economic recovery, his pro-EU deputy Nick Clegg said on Wednesday.

"Years and years of uncertainty because of a protracted, ill-defined renegotiation of our place in Europe is not in the national interest because it hits growth and jobs," the deputy prime minister told BBC television after Cameron gave a long-awaited speech on EU policy in London.

"The overwhelming priority of the British people is jobs, is growth, is a strong economy," Clegg added.

Clegg, who leads the junior coalition partner, the centre-left Liberal Democrats, has previously attacked Cameron's goal of clawing back powers from Brussels, describing it as a "false promise wrapped in a Union Jack".

Cameron promised to give Britons a straight referendum choice on whether to stay in the European Union or leave, provided he wins an election in 2015.

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