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Only Tories will guarantee an EU referendum

Gale’s View by your MP Sir Roger Gale

Writing in a weekend tabloid newspaper my colleague Dan Hannan, Member of the European Parliament for South East England, has spelled out three possible options for the prime minister arising from the promised in/out referendum on our membership of the European Union (EU). This follows the selection, by an overwhelming majority of the prime ministers of the EU, of the federalist Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European Commis1on. Ordinarily I agree with much of what Dan Hannan says. In this instance, however, there is a flaw in his argument. His thesis is based upon the assumption that there will, indeed, be a referendum after the next election.

Bob Neil, the MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, has seized the opportunity offered by a good place in the ballot for Private Member’s Bills, to seek to reintroduce the EU Referendum Bill that was taken through the House of Commons by the Conservative MP James Wharton and then defeated by the Liberal Democrats and Labour in the House of Lords. Such an Act is necessary before a referendum can be held and the prime minister has indicated that he will seek to use the Parliament Act to force through thenecessarybill if itgets through the Commons this time and is blocked by the Lords again. That, though, is only the first hurdle. For Dan Hannan’s concept of a Swiss- style free-trade relationship with Europe to become a reality,we still have to hold the in/out referendum and that is entirely dependent upon there being a majority Conservative government after the 2015 general election.

How ever much they may fantasise, UKIP will not form a government next year. They might, though, split the Conservative vote to permit a Labour government or a Lib/Lab coalition, with both opposed to a referendum. Under any other scenario there will be no referendum and the people of the UK, whether for or against our continued membership of the EU, will be denied the opportunity to vote on the issue.

Herne Bay Gazette, July 3rd 2014

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