EU vote Bill gets second reading

Tory MP James Wharton's European Union (Referendum) Bill, which would force a public vote by 2017 on whether the United Kingdom should remain within the EU, was unanimously given a second reading in the House of Commons today.

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Does the private members' bill have a chance?

The Tory MP James Wharton has introduced a private members' bill calling for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU to be held no later than the end of 2017.

  • Private members' bill have a lower success rate than bills with government backing
  • Very little parliamentary time devoted to such bills
  • Its opponents are likely to try "talk out" the bill by using up the time devoted to it
  • Most bills that do pass have cross-party support. Most Labour and Lib Dem MPs are opposed.
  • It still has three more stages before passing the Commons and a further five in the Lords

PM: Conservatives 'united behind' EU referendum bill

The Prime Minister has sought to rally the Conservative party around a private members' bill due to be discussed in the House of Commons today.

In an email to party activists last night he wrote:

As I made clear in my speech on Europe earlier this year, we want an in-out referendum by the end of 2017. And tomorrow Conservative MP James Wharton will propose a Bill that would write this commitment into law.

The Bill has my full support - and it has support from across the Parliamentary Party: ministers and backbenchers, Conservatives of all views. We are united behind it and together we will vote for it.

For decades, politicians have denied the British people a voice on Europe. Tomorrow the Conservative Party will fight to give them one. And let us all be proud of that.

– Prime minister David Cameron


Profile: Conservative MP James Wharton

MPs will today debate a private members' bill on an EU referendum brought by the Conservative MP for Stockton South, James Warton.

At 29, the former solicitor is the youngest Conservative MP. He was among the 114 Tory MPs to vote in favour of an amendment to the Queen's Speech in May.

Timeline: Conservatives' turmoil over EU referendum

  • May 2010: Coalition formed including a large number of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs
  • 14 May: Conservatives publish draft bill calling for a referndum to be held before the end of 2017
  • 16 May: 114 Tory MPs rebel by voting in favour of an amendment to the Queen's Speech
  • 5 July: Private members' bill brought by Tory MP James Wharton to get second reading in Commons

EU referendum debate to expose coalition divisions

A private members' bill calling for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU is to be debated in parliament today and is expected to expose divisions in the coalition.

James Wharton MPs introduced the bill after 114 Conservative backbenchers voted in favour of an amendment to the Queen's Speech regretting the absence of any mention of a referendum in May.

Stockton South MP James Wharton introduced the bill for an EU referendum Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Whilst the Prime Minister has said he would like to hold a referendum on the issue, he is not able to bring this forward in the current parliament due to opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

The majority of both Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs are expected to vote against the bill today, but it will be an opportunity for a lively debate.

Conservative MPs will be under a three-line whip, the strongest order a party can give, to support the measure.

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