Milton Keynes’ two Tory MPs will go head-to-head over tomorrow’s EU referendum with one voting Leave and the other backing Remain.
Just hours after the Prime Minister told of his EU reform deal earlier this year, Iain Stewart MP decisively announced he wanted out of the European Union.
Milton Keynes North MP, Mark Lancaster, was not so decisive initially. He appeared to sit on the fence over the decision, admitting he was “jealous” of those with a clear idea of how they would vote.
Despite admitting he is a Eurosceptic at heart, the defence minister is now voting firmly to Remain, saying he fears what leaving would do a thriving MK economy.
He told the Citizen in February: “My starting point is to put my personal prejudices to one side, ‘hold my nose’ and be a reluctant ‘in’ supporter.
“I’m no fan of the EU, it is a deeply flawed organisation, but at the moment, I am not currently prepared to take that leap of faith into the unknown.
“The ‘Out’ campaign wins on emotion, but we need more than emotional arguments; give some hard facts as to exactly what that ‘out’ journey would involve, what would the terms of trade would be and reassurance that the benefits outweigh the enormous risks.”
Meanwhile Iain Stewart, who is MP for MK South, describes the referendum is a “once in a generation chance” to leave.
He said: “I have concluded that the moment has come for us to part company with the EU.
“I had hoped that we could stay part of a genuinely reformed EU akin to the vision set out by the Prime Minister in his Bloomberg speech, but I believe that the gap between the objectives of the Euro-elite and what I believe is in our national interests is too great.
“That is why I shall be voting to leave. It is a balanced decision; I am not without my doubts.
“I believe I would regret a decision to continue with the EU in the hope that something better will come along in the future. I do not believe it will.”
Milton Keynes Council voted in March to back the Remain campaign.
Moving the motion, Lib Dem councillor Sam Crooks said: “I believe there is a positive case to be made for Europe, and not just an economic one. It is also true of measures to harmonise security, arrest warrants and faster extradition.”
But individual councillors are, of course, free to vote whichever way they wish tomorrow and it is understood there are differences of opinion in all political parties.