Tory MPs 'prepare to defy Cameron over EU vote'

As many as 100 Tory MPs could be preparing to defy the party leadership by making a personal pledge to vote for a British exit from the EU in an in/out referendum.

The Independent reports that the eurosceptics are prepared to promise to vote 'No' to EU membership regardless of what concessions David Cameron can win from Brussels.

The Prime Minister has pledged to renegotiate the terms of British membership and then give the British people an in/out referendum in 2017.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said a by-election win for his party in Clacton would signal a "landslide in British politics" as an opinion poll indicated that the Tories would face a humiliating defeat in the contest triggered by Douglas Carswell's shock defection.

Mr Farage, who said the party was "testing the waters" with other potential turncoats - including from Labour - predicted Ukip could hold the balance of power in Parliament.

A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday gave Ukip a massive 44 point lead over David Cameron's party and Mr Farage predicted that a win would result in "more and more people coming over to us".

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Hague: Carswell defection 'totally counter-productive'

William Hague has said Douglas Carswell's decision to defect to Ukip is "totally counter-productive" because only the Conservatives can offer the public a choice on EU membership.

The Leader of the Commons said: "It's a totally counterproductive thing to do, of course, because the only chance of real change in Europe, the only chance of having a referendum where people can decide to say in the EU or leave the EU is having a Conservative government."

William Hague said only the Tories could offer voters a choice on EU membership.

Backbench Tory MP Mark Pritchard agreed with Mr Hague, saying Mr Carswell had made an "error of judgment" that would end up helping Labour in the 2015 general election.

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