Cameron to urge EU referendum block
19 October 2011
Labour agrees with the Prime Minister and virtually all Liberal Democrats – there should not be a referendum on whether the UK should remain as part of the European Union ... and David Cameron is expected to tell this to his party next week.
However, Tory MP David Nuttall and other members of the backbench business committee have decided to hold a debate on October 27 to consider a motion calling for a referendum in May 2013 on the UK's EU membership. The last such national poll was 36 years ago but many critics of the EU have said the current system is a far cry from the 'Common Market' of the 1970s.
Europe was deliberately kept off the agenda at the last Conservative Party conference but now Nuttall has said that MPs need to decide whether the public should have its say. The options to vote on will be to stay in as we are, to leave or to make substantial changes to the terms of EU membership.
Nuttall said: "I believe that a referendum along these lines would allow the public to make clear their views about our current membership of the European Union. It is 36 years since we last held a referendum and our relationship with what was then known as the Common Market and the European Union has changed out of all recognition."
But the PM's spokesman said: "I imagine we will establish the whipping arrangements nearer the time but we have a very clear policy on that and that is set out in the coalition agreement. We would expect MPs and ministers to follow the government's policy."
Tory MP Priti Patel said that a free vote on the EU would show "we are on the side of the people" and if Cameron blocked a referendum he would risk creating "animosity" among Conservative ranks.
And a Labour party spokesman said: "Britain should be focused on creating the jobs and growth we desperately need, not cutting ourselves off from major export markets that British jobs depend on."
The suggested motion will say: "This house calls upon the government to introduce a bill in the next session of parliament to provide for the holding of a national referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union, leave the European Union, or renegotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and cooperation."