David Cameron will publish a draft EU referendum bill the day after the Queen’s Speech, according to the Daily Express. The move is designed to placate right-wing Tory MPs, still angry that the government’s failure to deal with the European issue cost the party votes at the election.
The bill is likely to go through because convention dictates that the House of Lords will not block legislation that appeared in the governing party’s manifesto. A Cabinet insider told the Express: “We will try to have a debate on the floor of the House before the summer recess.”
The Prime Minister had already told the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs: “The sooner I can deliver on our commitment of renegotiation and a referendum, the better.”
The plan to hold the referendum in 2016 is gathering pace at Westminster with Labour leadership front runner Andy Burnham also lending his support. Several senior Tories including Peter Bone and London Mayor Boris Johnson back the move.
Bone said: “It is really encouraging that the Prime Minister is saying that he would like to hold the referendum sooner. There seems to be no reason at all to keep the British people waiting any longer.”
For some time the Conservatives have argued Cameron would not have enough time to hold a full renegotiation on Britain’s membership quickly enough to go to the polls in 2016. However, European leaders have already made it clear they will not give any concession on the key issue of free movement of labour.
Instead the government is likely to further reduce the amount of benefits EU migrants can claim when they come to the UK. There is little real prospect of reform to the bloated European institutions that garner negative headlines in the British press.
David Cameron had pledged to lead the campaign to stay in if he can secure enough concessions, otherwise he will vote to leave.