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.