Friday, July 05, 2013
Victory in first round on EU Referendum Bill.
Conservatives won the first round today in the battle to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership.
James Wharton's private members bill which would provide for an EU referendum in 2017 passed its' first hurdle in the House of Commons today, when MPs voted to pass it to the next stage of the legislative process by 304 votes to nil.
All but five Conservative MPs backed the bill. Those five abstained or were away, but should not be assumed to be against a referendum: one of them will be chairing the "committee stages" of the bill and has to be neutral at this point in the process, and two more are publicly on record as supporting a referendum.
The policy of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties was to abstain and most of their MPs stayed away, although half a dozen Labour rebels did vote for the bill.
Although it has passed its first parliamentary hurdle, the bill will face much stronger opposition later and its passage through Parliament is far from guaranteed.
Nevertheless a marker has been laid down. Whether we are in or out of the EU, I believe Britain's position will be clearer and stronger if the people of Britain, rather than politicians on their behalf, have made the choice.
Let Britain Decide.