A referendum on the UK's future in Europe will be the key issue for David Cameron if he is forced into any coalition negotiations following the 2015 general election.
The Prime Minister said he will not lead a government unless it implements his plan for a vote by the end of 2017 on severing ties with Brussels.
Mr Cameron said he did not believe the British people wanted to “instantly get up and walk away” from Europe but support for the current situation had “worn wafer thin”.
He said the commitment to a referendum was not something that he would “barter away” in any negotiations should there be a hung parliament after the 2015 election.
The Prime Minister was taking part in a telephone conference aimed at Tory supporters ahead of May 22’s European elections, where the Conservative vote risks deserting the party for Nigel Farage’s UKIP.
Mr Cameron said the issue of Europe would be one of his main concerns if he remained in No 10 after the next general election.
He said: “It’s very high up the priority list. If the Conservative Party and I am re-elected in 2015, which I believe we can do – it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a big battle, but we can do it – if I achieve that in 2015, then we would have to work quickly to complete that renegotiation and hold that referendum.
“So it would be very high up the list of priorities for an incoming government.
“And as I’ve tried to say, this is not something that I would ever barter away or give away. I would not be prime minister of a government unless we could carry out our pledge of an in/out referendum.
“I think that’s a really clear promise and a very clear statement to make.”
*How important is the issue of Europe for you? Would you vote to stay in the EU or to leave? Let us know what you think using the comment form below: