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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Osborne laments Carswell defection to Ukip

George Osborne has labelled the defection of Douglas Carswell to Ukip as "regrettable and counter-productive".

Speaking in Brighton today, the Chancellor said that the best way to secure a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union was to have a Conservative government after the next election.

"That's the choice people are going to face, whether it's at the by-election in Clacton or at the general election next year," Mr Osborne said.

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