British Prime Minister David Cameron says government ministers will be able to campaign on either side in an in-or-out referendum on European Union membership. The move is a bid to avert a showdown with anti-EU forces in his Conservative Party.

Cameron has committed to holding a referendum on Britain's membership in the 28-nation bloc by the end of 2017.

He says he will argue to stay in, as long as he gets a new deal for Britain. But Cameron told lawmakers Tuesday that "it will be open to individual ministers to take a different personal position" to that of the government.

Cameron hopes to hold the referendum later this year. But his goals — especially welfare limits intended to control migration — face opposition from other EU leaders.