Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Cameron's Conservatives table EU referendum bill

  • Cameron's move comes after pressure from within this own Conservative ranks and the increasingly popular Ukip party (Photo: UK Parliament)

The British Conservative Party has tabled legislation that would guarantee an EU in/out referendum before the end of 2017.

The bill, released on Tuesday (14 May), is expected to be sponsored as a private member's bill by a backbench Conservative MP.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It has the support of Prime Minister David Cameron but will not be tabled as a government bill because of the coalition agreement with the pro-European Liberal Democrats.

The question to appear on the ballot papers is “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?"

The radical step is the latest indication that Britain is on the verge of opening the EU's exit door. It also comes as Cameron attempts to face down a rebellion from around 60 Conservative MPs angry that the Queen's speech, which sets out the government's legislative priorities for the next year, does not include provisions for a referendum.

Many are also concerned that Cameron's renegotiation plans are predicated on winning the next election expected to take place in 2015.

The opposition Labour party has so far refused to match Cameron's referendum promise. But its MPs include a vocal minority of eurosceptics and the party is anxious not to be out of step with public opinion.

Cameron in January set out plans to rewrite the terms of the UK's EU membership and then hold referendum in 2017.

However, he has come under sustained pressure from within his own party, and from the anti-EU UK Independence party (Ukip) to bring forward the vote.

Conservatives are also struggling to stave off the rise in popularity of of Ukip. Led by MEP Nigel Farage, the party made big gains at local council elections earlier this month, picking up over 100 seats and beating the Tories into third place with an estimated 24 percent of the vote.

Opinion polls indicate that Ukip would pick up over 15 percent in a general election, the party's highest rating since its creation in the late 1990s.

For his part, Farage dismissed the Tories' referendum bill as "nothing more than gesture politics".

At the weekend two Conservative cabinet ministers, Phillip Hammond and Michael Gove, broke ranks indicating that they would support withdrawal from the EU on the basis of the current terms of membership.

UK media have indicated that at least nine senior ministers would favour a "No" vote without a successful renegotiation.

Key Conservative demands are likely to include special treatment of the City of London financial sector and an opt-out from employment and social affairs legislation.

Meanwhile, the first results of the UK government's 'balance of competences' review, which includes more than 30 audits across a range of EU policy areas, are expected to be published in the coming months.

US warns Britain on EU referendum

The Obama administration has warned Britain against sidelining itself in the EU as Prime Minister Cameron comes under increasing pressure to hold a membership referendum.

UK may hold EU referendum, PM says

British PM Cameron has said the UK could have a referendum on future relations with the EU - but only when the time is right.

Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype

The two biggest parties in Catalonia have vowed to put Puigdemont back in office despite Madrid's threat to maintain direct rule.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium lowers terror alert level
  2. France, Spain set to gain seats in post-Brexit EU parliament
  3. Orban family probed over 'fraudulent' EU projects
  4. Spanish judge rejects Puigdemont arrest warrant
  5. Austria plans to sue Commission over Hungary's nuclear plant
  6. Puigdemont proposed as sole candidate for Catalan leadership
  7. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  8. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. EU stands by Palestine on Jerusalem
  2. MEPs may bar killer robots and drones from EU research cash
  3. Europe's social democrats are having a hard time
  4. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  5. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  6. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on agenda This WEEK
  7. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  8. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems