UK's EU membership now up to British public

UK Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters, file)
UK Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters, file)

It was an exhausting 30 hours of negotiations, but at the end of it the UK appears to have cut a deal to stay in the European Union.

But the British public will have the final say.

It's the ultimate meal deal – Britain and the European Union negotiating over what was supposed to be an English breakfast, delayed; it became an English brunch, then lunch, dinner. It took a long time to come to an agreement.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is fighting to keep the UK in the EU, but it's not for him to decide; voters will do that in a referendum.

To get voters on side, he needed this good deal for Britain. It's where the other EU leaders came in – all 27 of them.

Round one of talks ran right through the night, Italy's Prime Minister pepping with coffee. Germany's Angela Merkel went instead for hot chips, apparently the best in Belgium.

Getting consensus is hard enough, harder still with tired, hungry leaders slogging it out over the weekend.

It was high stakes for the UK and Mr Cameron. Possibly his career and certainly his legacy depends on the outcome.

A breakdown would mean political crisis for Mr Cameron back home.

But the EU is also in crisis. Every minute spent haggling over the UK is another minute not spent working on solutions to the refugee crisis.