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Cameron facing rebellion from own MPs over EU Vote

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Cameron facing rebellion from own MPs over EU Vote

Post  Panda on Sun 6 Oct - 0:35

EU referendum: Adam Afriyie leads rebellion against David Cameron
David Cameron is facing a rebellion from his own MPs who are demanding a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union next year.

David Cameron in Brussels for the European Council. Photo: REX
By Tim Ross, Political Correspondent
11:28PM BST 05 Oct 2013

The Prime Minister has committed the Tories to holding an in-out referendum on membership of the EU by 2017, after lengthy talks in Brussels about “repatriating” powers to Britain.

However, Adam Afriyie, the backbench Tory who denied being part of a leadership plot earlier this year, has now announced that he will force a vote in the Commons on a rival plan for a referendum in October 2014.

The MP said an earlier referendum was vital because the public doubted the Prime Minister's promise to give them a say after the next election in 2015.

Mr Afriyie, a self-made millionaire businessman, said he would table an amendment to the Conservative Party’s EU referendum Bill in the next five weeks, in order to force a vote on an early plebiscite. He claims he has "widespread support" for his plan.

The Liberal Democrat and Labour leaderships would be virtually certain to oppose any law which enshrined a commitment to such a referendum.

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However, the move raises the prospect of a major rebellion, and will worry the Prime Minister, after 81 of his own MPs refused to obey his orders on the same issue in 2011.

A No 10 spokesman said: “We will not allow this amendment to be passed under any circumstances. The PM will not let it stand.”

It was suggested that Mr Cameron would be prepared to withdraw his support for the entire Bill, which he has public championed, if the rebel amendment were passed.

James Wharton, the backbench Conservative MP who has sponsored the Tory referendum Bill, warned that “every amendment makes it harder” to pass the law in any form. He urged Mr Afriyie to “rethink” his approach.

“We need to build as broad a base of support for the Bill as we can if we are to get it through Parliament and the policy of a renegotiation, followed by an in/out referendum, is the right one to do that and the right one for the country.

“I hope MPs will decline to support it as the ultimate impact might well be to kill my Bill, which would only help those who don't want any referendum at all.”

Mr Afriyie, announced his plan in an article for the Mail on Sunday, is likely to seek support from eurosceptic Labour MPs for his move. In his article, he said: "I believe there should be an EU referendum before the next General Election.

"It’s in our national interest to resolve this issue as soon as possible to create the certainty and stability our country needs for the future. Only by setting an early date can we kick-start EU renegotiation talks and give the British people what they so clearly want – a say on our country’s future with Europe.

"That’s why [on Monday] I will be tabling an amendment to the European Union (Referendum) Bill to bring the date of the referendum forward to October 2014.

"The political establishment are naturally hesitant but we have nothing to fear by giving people a chance to have their say."

The fresh Tory split over Europe came as Nick Clegg backed Mr Cameron’s plan to negotiate a complete overhaul of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

However, the Deputy Prime Minister warned that while it was “of course” possible to strike a new deal for Britain – a prospect he has previously dismissed – it would never be enough to satisfy eurosceptic Tories.

In a speech this week, Mr Clegg will say that leaving the EU would be “economic suicide” as he criticises Conservatives for “threatening to flounce out”, according to extracts released in advance.
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