Tory MPs who defy PM will face sanctions
EU REFERENDUM VOTE:CONSERVATIVE MPs who support a House of Commons motion today for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will be blocked for promotion afterwards, 10 Downing Street has made clear.
Up to 60 MPs are set to support a motion put down by Eurosceptic Tory MP David Nuttall in a 10pm vote tonight, despite British prime minister David Cameron’s decision to order a three-line whip.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond said a referendum would be a “distraction” from “the immediate and urgent” euro crisis. Discipline had to be maintained, he said, because the motion “is contrary to government policy”.
Many Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are reluctant to end their promotion chances, but they have to keep an eye on Tory constituency associations who are anti-EU and who influence the selection of candidates for the next election, when 50 fewer MPs will be elected.
Former Conservative leadership challenger Derek Davis said Mr Cameron feared British voters would quit the EU if given the chance. “Do not refuse the people their right to answer the question just because you’re afraid of what the answer could be,” he said.
Mr Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague will argue that Britain will negotiate the hand-back of some powers from Brussels when the next EU treaty is negotiated and that the result of such talks will be put to the people.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has ordered his MPs to vote against the referendum call, said the prime minister had brought the crisis on himself because he has sought to appease Tory Eurosceptics since he took over the leadership.