The EU referendum question….

There is enormous press and internet speculation about the public petition that calling for parliament to debate our relationship with Europe.
Some MPs have, as a result of that, put forward a motion for a referendum on whether we stay a member of the European Union. I have always been a sceptic of the way that the European Union has developed and the amount of powers Labour gave to
Brussels.

I was horrified when Labour ignored their 2005 General Election pledge and refused us a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. It passed in to law before the 2010 General Election, making it impossible for the incoming government to hold a referendum. That is why I have always supported the Conservative policy of using our position in Europe to renegotiate the repatriation of powers we should never have given away.

For this reason, I will be supporting the following amendment on Monday:

“ Line 1,leave out from ‘House’ to end and add ‘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;
further believes that it was right for the present Government to introduce
legislation which required a referendum before the transfer of any further
power in a new Treaty; notes that by enacting this legislation, Parliament has
prevented such undemocratic transfers of power in the future; further believes
that the steady and unaccountable intrusion of the EU into almost every aspect
of people’s lives has gone too far and that the burden of EU legislation is
suppressing growth in the UK economy; 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; further calls on the Government
to bring the EU budget under control, with anything more than a real terms
freeze in the next EU multi-annual budget being unacceptable; further believes
that the UK 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 further believes that Eurozone bail-outs should be the
responsibility of Member States in the Eurozone.’. “
Damian Collins MP has written an excellent article highlighting problems with the original motion tabled and why is unable to support it:
“In a referendum based on the question being put before the
House of Commons I would vote for option c. The question is though, is this
referendum the right thing for us to do now.

“Firstly, I think that if we have a referendum on our EU
membership there has to be a clear in or out vote. In a multiple choice
referendum what would be the result if 25% voted to stay in as we are, 40%
opted to leave and 35% to stay in and renegotiate. In this case most people
would have voted to stay in the EU, but the most individual votes would have
been cast in favour of the option to leave. This would clearly be unacceptable.

“Secondly, if people were minded to vote for the option to re-negotiate our membership of the EU
they would not know if this is really worth supporting until we know what
powers we can get back through negotiation. This is further complicated as at
the moment we do not yet know what changes are going to be proposed to the EU
following the financial crisis in the Eurozone.

“Thirdly, if the House of Commons is going to call upon the
Government to call a referendum on our EU membership we should at least know
when approximately we want it to be called and what the terms of our membership
would be if we stayed in. We do not know this yet, so I think we should wait
until we do before asking the British people to vote on it.”
For readers wishing to read as wide as possible on this, there is also an article by Richard Harrington MP here: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/10/from-richard4watford-an-eu-debate-amounts-to-a-kneejerk-indulgence-for-eurosceptics.html