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Cameron heading to Europe

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British Prime Minister David Cameron with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
British Prime Minister David Cameron with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
British Prime Minister David Cameron with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

David Cameron is beginning his tour of European capitals as a bill paving the way for the UK’s EU referendum is launched in the House of Commons.

The prime minister will make the  attempt to persuade the Dutch, French, Polish and German premiers to back his changes to the UK’s EU membership reports BBC.

Downing Street wants voters to be asked the question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

The referendum bill was announced as part of a packed legislative programme in the Queen’s Speech, which also included an increase in free childcare, an income tax freeze and the right to buy for housing association tenants.

The bill, which is to be published, contains details of the question and the commitment to staging the vote by the end of 2017.

Downing Street said the draft law’s first reading in the Commons was a “concrete step towards settling the debate about the UK’s membership of the EU”.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond played down speculation that the government was thinking of holding an early EU referendum.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “It’s going to take some time. It’s more important that we get it right than that we get it quickly.”

The PM has hinted he could vote to leave the EU if his requests are not granted, saying he “rules nothing out”.

Mr Cameron has pledged to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU before holding the referendum.

First up are Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French President Francois Hollande, followed by Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Cameron has called for changes to EU migrants’ welfare entitlement, while some Conservatives also want the primacy of British law to be reaffirmed.