Comment: MP Mark Lancaster discusses the UK’s relationship with Europe

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It has been nearly 40 years since the British people last had their say on our relationship with Europe. Since then more and more powers have been devolved from our parliament to the European Union, so much so that now over 60 per cent of our laws are made in Brussels.

I have always been an ardent euro sceptic. So much so that when the Lisbon Treaty was being voted on in 2009 I flew half way across the world, back from Guatemala where I was away on parliamentary business, to ensure I could vote against its ratification.

When we joined the EEC in 1973 it was to be a union of economic benefit, free trade and political allegiance. It has subsequently evolved to become a law creator and high judicial body as well. To think those of us under 58 years old have never had an opportunity to vote on how we feel about our country’s membership of this Union even though its importance has grown so much is madness.

As the debate surrounding the referendum and the future of our relationship hots up and the political parties a line themselves with a particular position, I am clear, as a euro sceptic that the Prime Minister has got this right.

I am pleased that the Conservative Party has published a draft bill to legislate for this referendum before the end of 2017. It is being brought to the House of Commons by James Wharton MP as a Private Member’s Bill, and will be debated on July 5. I will be voting for a referendum.

But whilst I agree that we need to have a referendum and rest assured I would like that to happen as quickly as possible, the Prime Minister is right to see if we can renegotiate our relationship before we vote on staying in or out.

Already we are seeing a two tiered Europe, those nations who are members of the Euro and those who are not. So it seems only logical that the Union looks further at how it has formed and how the different countries can continue to work with it. If they are able to deliver a renewed EEC style of relationship, I do believe Britain could benefit from it.

I understand the impatience, but a vote today between the status quo and leaving would be a false choice, especially if the Prime Minister manages to negotiate a different type of relationship with Europe before the referendum takes place.

I have confidence that our Prime Minister is committed to getting the very best deal for our country and with a referendum now closer to happening than ever, we may finally get to have our say again.

If you too would like to see a referendum then why don’t you sign up, like me, to the petition at www.letbritaindecide.com.