David Cameron faced demands yesterday to hold an early referendum on Europe as a poll by a Tory peer showed Labour on course for victory at next year’s general election.
In an article for The Sunday Times (£), David Davis, a standard bearer of the Tory right, warned that Cameron’s policy position on the European Union lacks “both clarity and credibility”.
He wrote: "We appear to be moving crab-like towards a referendum in 2017, without a clearly articulated set of strategic negotiating aims that might make it worthwhile to stay in the EU, or a clear vision of what we will do if the people decide they want to leave.
"We should start by bringing the referendum forward to 2016. The reform negotiation has barely got under way, precisely because the date is so distant [...] if we do not grasp this nettle, I can see the UKIP resurgence carrying all the way through to the general election".
UKIP's successes in the local elections have raised the possibility of them winning a Westminster seat at the general election.
A year ahead of the general election, Ed Miliband's party is seeing only patchy support in areas it should expect to gain ground.
UKIP are likely to make Rotherham a key target for 2015 after a storming result in the local elections.