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Britain nominates low-key eurosceptic as EU commissioner

Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday nominated House of Lords leader Jonathan Hill to be Britain's next European Commissioner, picking a low-key veteran for a key period that will feature a possible referendum on leaving the EU.

LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday nominated House of Lords leader Jonathan Hill to be Britain's next European Commissioner, picking a low-key veteran for a key period that will feature a possible referendum on leaving the EU. Hill, a eurosceptic who has voted in favour of legislation to limit the power of Brussels, will be tasked with Cameron's promise to win reforms of the European Union before Britain holds an in-out referendum in 2017.

Britain is understood to be seeking a trade or single market position in the European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation bloc, to which each member state nominates one commissioner.

Cameron said he had called incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday to nominate Hill, adding that Juncker "welcomed the extensive political experience that Lord Hill would bring to any role." European Commission nominations and roles must be approved by the European Parliament, which is expected to vote on the issue on September.

Hill, 53, was political secretary to former Conservative prime minister John Major from 1992 in 1994, a stretch that included "Black Wednesday" when Britain crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. He later worked in public relations before rejoining politics and taking on his current role as leader of Britain's upper chamber of parliament.

Just a month ago he denied he would be Britain's next European Commissioner. "Non, non, non," he said in French in an interview with the internet site Conservative Home. "First, I don't believe I'm going to be asked. Secondly, I like it here. I quite like it at home, in the British Isles."

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