It has also been reported that Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour party leaders are against having a referendum (despite what they have said in the past), and that MP's may be subject to a party whip to vote against the referendum.
Accordingly I have written the following to my (conservative) MP.
Please read it then WRITE TO YOURS.
There is soon to be a debate/vote on giving the people of the UK a referendum on the UK's EU membership.
Such a referendum would deliver on the promises that David Cameron made on behalf of the Conservative party before being elected - that the people of the UK should have a direct say in the constitutional changes that the EU is bringing about.
It would also deliver on the promise that Nick Clegg made when he instructed Liberal Democrats to vote down a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - he said it was 'because it is the wrong referendum, people want a referendum on in/out'.
More generally people feel that just as the Liberal Democrats were elected on a false pledge on Tuition Fees, the Conservatives have been elected on a false pledge of EU-scepticism.
Apart from the direct EU issues, all parties and MPs have professed to support calls for 'reconnecting' the public with politics. We have had a referendum on voting reform, what better way to continue this reconnection that with a referendum on another divisive (between politicians and public) issue?
And what better way to entrench the division between people and politics than vote down this referendum - a debate that has come about through a petition of 100,000 people?
The referendum question as proposed is not particularly good - giving three options, and being worded badly - but the principle of finally giving the people a say on this issue cannot be ignored.
I ask and hope that you will vote for a referendum on this issue, regardless of any instructions from you party.
Thank you for writing to me about the Motion regarding a referendum on Britain's continued relationship with the EU.
At present, this matter is very much in flux because of ongoing discussions in Westminster. Although I am in Brighton today, undertaking constituency visits, I am in touch with colleagues in Parliament regarding this matter on a frequent basis.
Please be assured that I shall vote for the best outcome for our country as a whole.
In the meantime, I have carefully noted your comments and request that I vote to support a referendum.
I will keep in touch as matters develop.
Reply after Vote
I wanted to write to you regarding the EU referendum debate.
I have received many emails and letters espousing both sides of the argument. I am only too aware of how important this is.
I believe the EU has become a huge, overly costly, bureaucratic organisation fundamentally lacking in both democracy and accountability to the many millions of people who pay for it through their taxes and who are bound to live by its rules.
However, I must emphasise, the Motion that was put for debate and a vote yesterday was three-pronged and badly timed as it was demanding an in-out referendum in the next Parliamentary Session. With Europe and the Eurozone in a financial crisis which is affecting our economy and those countries not even in the EU, I could not support such a motion as the most important thing in the short term needs to be financial stability and political certainty. I think it is also important to stress that notwithstanding its many failings I am a believer in working with, and co-operating with, our European allies especially as the Eurozone is Britain's biggest customer.
The Conservative Party manifesto for the last General Election which was voted for by millions of people, made it clear that we believed Britain should remain within the European Union but we should not be run by the EU.
The issue is we did not promise a referendum on whether we should stay or leave the EU. However, we did promise a referendum on any further transfer of power from Britain to Brussels and we have already delivered on that promise with our "referendum lock". We also made it clear that we will work to repatriate many of the powers we believe Britain has lost to the EU, particularly over social and employment legislation. The Prime Minister confirmed that policy yesterday, in the debate.
It is worth pointing out that there were two other amendments put forward for debate, which I was minded to support if they had been selected for debate by the Speaker:
"This House calls upon the Government to publish a White Paper during the next session of parliament setting out the powers and competences that the Government would seek to repatriate from the EU, to commence a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU and to put the outcome of those negotiations to a national referendum.”
and the second motion that I could have supported is:
"This House believes that it was wrong for successive Governments to hand over increasing powers to the EU without seeking the approval of the British people in a referendum; believes that it was right for the present Government to introduce legislation which requires a referendum before the transfer of any further power in a in a new Treaty; and notes that by enacting this legislation Parliament has prevented such undemocratic transfers of power in the future. This House believes that the steady and unaccountable intrusion of the European Union into almost every aspect of our lives has gone too far and that the burden of EU legislation is suppressing growth in the UK economy. It calls upon the Government to negotiate to return powers that should reside with the UK rather than the EU, including in the field of social and employment legislation. Furthermore, this House:
- Calls on the Government to bring the EU budget under control and believes that anything more than a real terms freeze in the next EU multi-annual budget would be unacceptable;
- Believes that the United Kingdom should not participate in the Eurozone bail-out of Greece and insists that the Government avoid participation in any further Eurozone bail-out of Greece; and
- Believes that Eurozone bail-outs should be the responsibility of the Eurozone Member States.”
However, the Speaker, who has absolute control of these matters, did not choose to call either amendment. I was sorry to hear this when I was in the Chamber. Given my reasoning above, I decided to reluctantly vote against the Motion that was debated last night.
I want to assure you that I appreciate the strength of feeling on this matter, and I will continue to keep you appraised of developments.
I hope the foregoing is helpful.