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Prince William indicates support for UK staying in EU

Press Trust of India  |  London 

today indicated support for staying in the European Union, saying that in an increasingly turbulent world, the ability to unite in common action with other nations is "essential".

The Duke of Cambridge, while speaking at an awards ceremony for members of the Foreign Office's Diplomatic Academy here, said has always been "outward looking" with a "long and proud tradition of seeking out allies".

"In an increasingly turbulent world, our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential. It is the bedrock of our security and prosperity and is central to your work. Right now, the big questions with which you wrestle -- in the UN, NATO, the Middle East and elsewhere -- are predicated on your commitment to working in partnership with others," the second-in-line to Britain's throne said.

His words were instantly seized upon by the British media as a clear indication of his stance over an impending referendum to decide whether would exit the EU, commonly referred to as "Brexit".

The royal family traditionally stays neutral on political issues but Prince William's speech was widely interpreted as a timely comment to strengthen the camp which does not want the to break away from the economic bloc.

"For centuries, Britain has been an outward looking nation. Hemmed in by sea, we have always sought to explore what is beyond the horizon. That sense of mission and curiosity is something that I know continues to drive our economy, our cultural and educational exports and our Armed Forces and Diplomatic Service," the 33-year-old said.

"And wherever we go, we have a long and proud tradition of seeking out allies and partners," William said.

His speech today coincided with British Prime Minister David Cameron's crucial talks in Brussels for an EU reform agenda, which he hopes will strengthen his hand at campaigning for the to stay within the union once he does announce the date of an in-out referendum for the British public to have their say.

"I am not entering into the details of a plan B, because we don't have a plan B, we have a plan A. Britain will stay in the European Union as a constructive and active member of the Union," Cameron said during his ongoing Belgium visit.

Britain's renegotiation is the first item on the agenda for a two-day European Council summit in Brussels beginning on Thursday. The gathering of 28 EU leaders will conclude by Friday afternoon, after which Cameron will call an immediate Cabinet meeting to discuss the deal he has secured.

The meeting will effectively fire the starting gun on the referendum battle, as Eurosceptic ministers will be given the green light to campaign for a 'leave vote' in a referendum expected on June 23.

Britain's ruling Conservative party MPs have already

entered into full-scale campaigning mode over the EU referendum, with two clear camps forming for and against staying in the EU.

Eurosceptics from the Grassroots Out campaign, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Leave.EU will came together under the umbrella of 'GO Movement' to apply for official designation as the official leave campaign in the EU referendum.

The 'GO Movement' is being countered by the 'Britain Stronger in Europe' group, which will campaign for Britain to stay within the union.

The issue has deeply divided not only politicians but also prominent British celebrities.

While well-known actor Michael Caine recently spoke out in favour of Brexit, actress Emma Thompson made a firm stance in favour of staying in the EU at the BAFTA awards ceremony in London earlier this week.

The voices on both sides of the camp are expected to gather momentum as soon as a firm date for the in-out referendum is finally announced. The Opposition Labour party and the Scottish National Party (SNP) are all in favour of staying within the EU.

First Published: Tue, February 16 2016. 21:57 IST