UK Politics

Local council elections: Cameron hails 'British revival'

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Media captionPrime Minister David Cameron: "Today the British economy is one of the fastest growing in the developed world"

David Cameron has said the economy is enjoying a "great British revival" as he launched the Conservatives' local election campaign.

Speaking in Staffordshire, the prime minister said the UK's fortunes had turned around since 2010 and his party wanted to "finish the job".

He also promised to "make sure" UK voters get a referendum on whether to leave the European Union.

He said Labour "won't" deliver a referendum and UKIP was "discredited".

Labour said the Conservatives were "obsessed" by the electoral threat from the UK Independence Party rather than focusing on the economic pressures facing families.

On 22 May, 161 councils in England - including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle Upon Tyne and London's 32 boroughs - will be holding elections.

On the same day, there will be elections to 11 councils in Northern Ireland and polls to choose the UK's 73 members of the European Parliament will also be held.

Mr Cameron said the elections were a chance for the Conservatives to "get its message out" that it was the only party with a credible, long-term plan to ensure the recovery was sustained.

'Finish the job'

While the UK was seeing a strong upturn in manufacturing, exports and employment, he said more needed to be done to guarantee long-term prosperity for all.

"Britain is coming back," he said. "We came through the great recession together. We are building the great British revival together.

"And we've got to be very clear. The great British revival doesn't come with a life-time guarantee. The job is not done...If you want to finish the job we have started, back the party with a plan."

The Conservatives, he added, had a record of delivering lower council taxes than their rivals.

On Europe, he said the Tories were the only party which could guarantee change in the UK's relationship with the EU and took aim at UKIP, which polls suggest could get the most votes in the European polls.

"I don't need to discredit UKIP. They have done a good enough job of that over the last few weeks."

The prime minister, who has promised an "in-out" referendum by the end of 2017 if the Conservatives win next year's general election, said: "To those people who say you won't deliver on that renegotiation or on that referendum, I say: Judge me by my record as prime minister.

"Others talk about acting in the national interest or in standing up to Europe, I do it, time and again - often in the teeth of opposition in Brussels and with a backdrop of uncertainty about whether it can really happen at home."

'Fundamental principle'

Mr Cameron added: "People said I would never veto a European treaty. In 2011 that's exactly what I did. People said my attempts to cut the European budget would fail. But I secured that cut.

"People said I couldn't get Britain out of the eurozone bailout scheme which Labour got us into, but I did just that. And now, we're not liable to pay for any eurozone country that needs a bail-out.

"So I have a track record of delivery - and believe me, whatever it takes, I will deliver this in-out referendum. Labour won't. UKIP can't. I will."

He repeated his pledge that he would not serve as prime minister in a government after 2015 that could not deliver a referendum.

"Let me be absolutely clear. The British people need to have their say on our membership of the EU. For me this is a fundamental principle..Because the British people deserve their say. And I will make sure they get it."

Labour said Mr Cameron was showing "weakness not leadership" over Europe.

"With things getting harder, the big question at this election is who will best stand up for hardworking families, but David Cameron is in the pocket of the privileged few, in fear of UKIP and incapable of raising living standards for ordinary people," said shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher.

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