I have always considered myself 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.
I feel very strongly about this issue and want to see a well informed referendum that decides Britain’s European future once and for all. There are fundamental changes needed in political and social legislation to ensure Britain benefits from a position within the EU, but few who voted in the last referendum would recognise today’s institution with the ‘Common Market’ they thought they were voting for.
With more and more sovereign powers being devolved to Europe and away from Westminster and having had no opportunity to have our say on our relationship in nearly 40 years, it is quite right that we finally do so.
I am therefore pleased that the Conservative Party has published a draft bill to legislate for this referendum by the end of 2017, but possibly sooner. As we saw from the shenanigans in the House last Friday, Labour is using any means necessary to stop this bill from proceeding. This included over 50 amendments all of which potentially would require voting on. While the Bill is still on track, this Friday will be crucial to whether or not the Bill will become law. If it clears the Commons it will go before peers for further scrutiny in the House of Lords.
As usual, they don’t trust the British public enough to give them a say, but we are prepared to go the distance, however many rounds it takes, to get the bill through and to let Britain decide.”
I realise that for some a referendum before 2017 is not soon enough, I understand their 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 he is committed to getting the very best deal for our country and if the proposition is not a vastly improved on the one we have today, rest assured I will be campaigning and voting to say ‘No’.