LONDON 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.
(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Stephen Addison)