David Cameron's Europe speech suggests a five year game of Russian Roulette, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs in the West Midlands, MEP Phil Bennion has warned.
Phil Bennion commented: "Mr Cameron wants to spin the wheel on a gun pointed at our heads for five years, in an impossible bid to keep the Tory right wing happy. This is a dangerous high stakes gamble.
"The speech was riddled with contradictions. What is the point of promising a referendum when you don't know what the 'Yes' question will be? And we still don't know if Mr Cameron will be saying stay in or get out when he calls it.
"This is hardly the best approach for cultivating allies to help Britain improve and reform the EU, which we are trying to do day in and day out as MEPs. His denial of the democratic mandate for MEPs is an insult.
"The EU is not going to go back to a deal between a few governments with no Commission or Parliament.
"As Mr Cameron almost admitted in a freudian slip, as he delivered the speech, there is no new Treaty on the table for us. And there is no appetite beyond a few fringe politicians for yet another Maastricht or Lisbon style agony.
"The Lib Dem view is that IF a new treaty is put forward by EU nations, then call a referendum. That is now the law. It is folly to impose a timetable and pretend Britain calls all the shots. The danger is the rest of Europe will say 'ok then, pull the trigger'."
As Lib Dem Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, Dr Bennion said his biggest fear was the effect on jobs and business confidence in the West Midlands and in Britain.
"I am very concerned at the impact of five years of uncertainty on employment: one in ten jobs at least depends on being inside the EU's Single Market. JLR, Rolls Royce, any number of exporting manufacturers and their supply chains all need our free trade deal for export sales.
"What will exporters do now who were thinking of taking on more staff, or large firms thinking of investing here? They may well make other plans.
"Mr Cameron makes a good case for staying in EU and it's Single Market. But then he ties that to a re-negotiation deal which may be impossible to deliver in the timescale he has set himself. By the logic of this speech, which the Tory right will hold him to, he may be forced to campaign for EU exit - a 'Brexit' - even if he doesn't agree with it.
"He rejected the 'Norway option', saying we can't stay in the Single Market while having no say in the rules. That is true, but his speech raises the spectacle that instead we may be heading for total 'Brexit' - which would be a catastrophe."
The EU’s Single Market gives West Midlands companies free and fair trade access to the world’s biggest single market containing over 500 million customers. 50% of British trade is with the Single Market, worth £450bn a year.
The UK is pushing to liberalise trade within the EU in new growth areas such as energy, digital, services and green technology. This could add over £650 billion to the EU economy, making the average West Midlands household almost £3,500 better off each year.
Full access to the EU’s single market makes the UK a magnet for foreign companies locating in the UK: Between 1998 and 2011, 603 major foreign companies chose to locate their European Headquarters in the UK.
Many of the biggest employers in our region choose to locate here because of our position as a launch pad into the European single market, the biggest market in the world.