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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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Conservative benches full for EU debate

Conservative MPs packed into the House of Commons to support the Private Member's Bill tabled by Tory backbencher James Wharton, which would require an in/out poll by the end of 2017.

Highly unusually for backbench legislation, the Prime Minister and other senior ministers including Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague were positioned prominently on the front bench to hear Mr Wharton introduce his Bill.

By contrast, the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches were sparsely occupied, with the bulk of the parties' MPs obeying the guidance of their leaders to stay away from a debate which they regard as a political stunt.

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