Millions of people across the country want a vote on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, the MP behind a bid to introduce a referendum on the issue said today.
Tory MP James Wharton said it was an honour to bring forward the European Union (Referendum) Bill at second reading in the House of Commons.
Bringing forward the Private Member's Bill, the backbench MP for Stockton South, said: "It is an honour for me to put forward a Bill that at its heart, the heart of our democracy - that powers should reside with the people."
He added: "In proposing this Bill I speak for many here, I speak for many millions outside because it was in 1975 of course that the Labour government gave the British people a say on our membership of the European community.
"How things have changed? Politics has moved on and the European Union has moved on."
If this Bill passes, and I believe it can pass, then we will have set out in law the need for a referendum on an in-out basis before the end of 2017.
That is my policy, that is what I want to see and I'll do everything I can to support this Bill and get it through the House of Commons so that we can renegotiate in Europe and then put a real choice to people before the end of 2017.
That is the clear Conservative position that I will champion and I believe we will succeed.
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
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.
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.
- May 2010: Coalition formed including a large number of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs
- 3 May: Eurosceptic UKIP win more than 140 council seats at the local elections, taking many from the Conservatives.
- 8 May: There is no mention of a referendum in the Queen's Speech, angering some 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
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.
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.
Eurosceptic ministers have been told not to vote for a rebel amendment demanding legislation to guarantee a referendum on Britain's EU membership.
Downing Street indicated that David Cameron was "relaxed" about the idea of Tory MPs attacking his Government's own Queen's Speech in the Commons lobbies.
At least 100 are tipped to back the move if the amendment is selected by Speaker John Bercow for debate on Wednesday, with cabinet ministers such as Ian Duncan Smith thought to be among them.
It is understood that free voting will be extended only to backbench MPs with ministers abstaining.
It remained unclear whether their parliamentary private secretaries - Commons aides to ministers - would be allowed to join the rebels.Conservative unrest over the European issue has been inflamed by the electoral success of the anti-EU UK Independence Party and Tory grandees advocating withdrawal.
A group of Conservative MPs will attempt to force a Commons vote over a referendum on the UK's European Union membership next week.Read the full story ›
Nadine Dorries, who has been reinstated as a Conservative MP after her suspension, has said David Cameron and George Osborne's "outlook on immigration has changed."
Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, has in the past labelled Cameron and Osborne "arrogant" and "out of touch" and has called for a referendum on EU membership.
However, after being quizzed by ITV News Political Editor Tom Bradby on her views, she said: "I do think their outlook has changed, particularly on issues like immigration."
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