BRUSSELS Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday he would campaign with all his "heart and soul" for Britain to stay in the European Union after he won a deal in Brussels which offered his country "special status".
At a news conference after more than 24 hours of negotiations, Cameron said the deal had delivered what he promised British voters when running for his second term and would recommend the agreement to his cabinet on Saturday.
Cameron said he would set a date for a referendum soon. Late June is widely expected to be his preference.
"I believe we are stronger, safer and better off inside a reformed European Union and that is why I will be campaigning with all my heart and soul to persuade the British people to remain," he said, adding that he believed quitting the bloc would be "a leap in the dark".
"The British people must now decide ... This will be a once in a generation moment to shape the destiny of our country."
The British prime minister also said he would offer new domestic proposals to strengthen the country's sovereignty - a clear bid to try to keep key eurosceptic lawmakers in his Conservative Party, such as London Mayor Boris Johnson, on board with his campaign to keep Britain in the bloc.
Cameron, who has said his top team of ministers would be allowed to campaign against the government's position, acknowledged members of all political parties would be on both sides of the debate in the run up to the vote.
He said the reform deal did not mean all of Britain's problems with the bloc were solved, but said voters should be wary of those of say Britain would be better off out without setting out the details of what that future would look like.
"I do not love Brussels, I love Britain," he said. "We should be suspicious of those who say that leaving Europe is some automatic fast track to a land of milk and honey."
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)
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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2016 06:45 AM