Cameron defends decision to hold referendum on Brexit as ‘right thing to do’

New Delhi: Former British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday defended his decision to hold a referendum which led to his country’s exit from the European Union but said Britain need to find the advantages and deliver them in the path the people have chosen.

“I still believe that Britain should have stayed in the European Union and that Brexit is not a dead-end for Britain,” Cameron said during an interactive session at the HT Leadership summit.

“We need to find the advantages and deliver them in the path, the British have chosen.”

Cameron said that his country’s relation with the multi-nation grouping was “utilitarian” and it was part of it for economic reasons.

“Britain’s commitment to EU was a very utilitarian one. We never liked the political project of Europe. We tried to stay out of it,” he said at a discussion on ‘The Western world in crisis’ at the event.

Standing with his decision of calling the referendum, he said: “I think referendum was right thing to do. EU in last 40 years has fundamentally changed.

The British people have never been asked about the various treaties (within EU). That is why I held a referendum. My argument was were we better off staying in the EU?”

Britain withdrew from the EU after a referendum held in June this year where 52 per cent voters voted in favour of the exit. Cameron subsequently resigned from his post in October.

Cameron said that Britain is the 5th largest economy and the European Union is the largest trading market in the world.

“There is a clear mutual interest in building a partnership which works for both, Britain and the European Union. Britain was inside the European Union and still out of several parts like a single currency, border controls and participation in the European army. However, after Brexit, Britain is outside the European Union but can work together towards common goals like strengthening the economy and common security,” he said.

About his ties with India, Cameron said: “India is a country that is making bold decisions. I am genuinely passionate about this relationship the two countries share.”

He said that India and Britain share a modern partnership based on jobs and investments.

He said, “Looking at a country like India, many people say you need to get a grip on corruption.”

On terrorism, Cameron said he agreed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that there are no good or bad terrorists.

“There are just terrorists who need to be brought under the law,” he said.

On emerging opposition to globalisation across the world, he said: “While globalisation has been a success for many in our country and our world, there is no doubt some people have left behind and have seen stagnation in wages…. for some in our country.”

“But there is another phenomenon happening to which is more of a cultural phenomenon… which is there are those in our country which feel left behind by the pace of change in their communities by the mass movement of the people, by the high level of migration,” Cameron said on the opposition to migrants in many parts of Europe and Britain.