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Government backs down over EU referendum date

The government has agreed not to hold the EU referendum with other elections after pressure from backbenchers and the SNP.

Ballot box. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The EU referendum, which will be held no later than 2017, will not happen on the same day as as elections in Scotland and Mayoral elections in London next May.

A senior government source said: "We've listened to the views expressed from MPs across the House and agreed that we won't hold the referendum on the same day as legislature elections."


IMF dramatically walks out of Greek debt talks

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels Credit: Reuters

The IMF has raised the stakes on Greece in ongoing debt talks by dramatically leaving negotiations in Brussels over what its representatives described as "major differences" between the two sides.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters that it was "unacceptable" for the Greek government to have rejected its proposals.

However, European and Greek politicians have attempted to play down this development, insisting that talks would continue in an effort to reach a deal by 18 June.

"Where there's a will there's a way but the will has to come from all sides so it's important that we keep speaking with each other," German Chancellor Andrea Merkel told a conference in Berlin.

A Greek government official, meanwhile, dismissed the IMF's move, claiming it is "nothing more than pressure" on the country and its creditors, and that Athens would not cross any of its "red lines".

EU referendum set in stone as Parliament debates Bill

Britain took another step on the long road to its forthcoming in/out EU referendum today, after European Union (Referendum) Bill had its second reading in Parliament today.

Labour backed the Bill, but the SNP stood up in opposition to it.

ITV News Political Editor Tom Bradby reports:

Boris Johnson: Allow ministers to vote for EU exit

Ministers should be allowed to campaign for the UK to exit the European Union in an in-out referendum, Boris Johnson has said.

The Mayor of London said it would be "safer and more harmonious" for David Cameron to allow ministers to campaign on the opposing side.

Mr Cameron was criticised yesterday for claiming that he had been "misinterpreted" when he appeared to suggest ministers would be forced to quit if they called for a No vote.

Asked if ministers should be allowed to campaign for "Brexit" and keep their posts, Mr Johnson told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "I don't see why not myself."

He added: "Do you really need to bind everybody in?"

Hammond: 'Wrong' to give 16 and 17-year-olds EU vote

It would be "wrong" to give 16 and 17-year-old's the vote in the EU referendum, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

Speaking in the Commons during a debate on the European Union Referendum Bill, Mr Hammond said: "Some will argue that we should extend the franchise further to 16 and 17-year-olds perhaps or even to citizens of other EU countries resident here. We do not agree."

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn confirmed Labour would seek an amendment to the Bill to allow 16 and 17-year-old's to vote.

"It is the same old excuse of an argument against giving people a say and it's completely at odds with the other rights we already give to 16 and 17-year-olds, which include the right to work, pay tax, join the armed forces," Mr Benn said.

Mr Hammond also confirmed that the referendum could be held earlier than planned if renegotiation is completed ahead of schedule.


PM: I was 'misinterpreted' over EU ministers 'threat'

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted he was "misinterpreted" over comments which appeared to suggest government minister could be sacked if they want to campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

The comments were made at the G7 summit in Germany Credit: PA

During a speech at the G7 summit in Germany, he said:

If you want to be part of the government you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome.

Everyone in government has signed up to the programme set out in the Conservative manifesto.

– David Cameron, Prime Minister

A Downing Street spokeswoman said he had been referring only to the need for ministers to observe the rule of collective responsibility during the renegotiation, and had not been speaking about the referendum campaign itself.

She said he would not "get into any hypotheticals" regarding his approach to the referendum, which has been promised by the end of 2017.

Cameron: There is real unity within the Tory party over EU

After confusion over his statement on how ministers will be expected to behave over the EU referendum and possible renegotiation David Cameron has said his party has 'real unity' over the issues at stake.

Answering a question from ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship the Prime Minister said "I think the Conservative party is delighted that we've got a renegotiation reform and referendum agenda, there's complete unity about that."

There's real unity behind the renegotiate and referendum strategy, which is right for the country, which is right for the country.

– David Cameron

Davis welcomes 'reinterpretation' of PM's EU threat

David Davis has said he welcomes the news that the Prime Minister has clarified his comments in which he appeared to say ministers would have to vote with him in the EU referendum.

It' a welcome reinterpretation of his words.

You cannot reasonably stop ministers from voting the way they want to, campaigning the way they want to and speaking the way they want to.

Otherwise that would not be a fair referendum.

– David Davis
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