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Rolling blog on EU referendum debate

Highlights only, not verbatim.

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9.59pm Final speeches given by Chris Chope and then Peter Bone in favour of the motion.

9.46pm: Aidan Burley defects back into the Government's camp and deservedly gets a rough reception for saying that economic recovery might be wrecked if "indulgent" motion passes.

9.35pm: Sam Gymiah supports Government with far too political speech - talking about what debate means for Conservative Party and not for his constituents. Zac Goldsmith intervened to tell him not to treat House of Commons like Tory Dining Club. Knockout!

9.26pm Nick Boles firstly talks up the courage and passion of pro-referendum MPs, but then attacks their "lack of good sense", and makes the point that "now" is not the right time for a referendum. Andrew Percy, who is supporting a referendum, intervenes, pointing out that anti-referendum voices would say the same thing (now is not the right time) after the Euro-crisis. Mark Pritchard further intervenes, seeking a date for when a referendum would be appropriate. The fourth year of a majority Conservative government is the answer Boles gives. 

9.17pm Robin Walker (Worcester), on the moderate wing of the Party, signals his intention to vote for a referendum. Big cheers as he announces he will put "constituency before Party", and reads a letter from a Second World War veteran. Paul Goodman tweets: "There's no more telling sign of the change in the Conservative Party than watching Peter Walker's son speaking for the motion."

Eusticeeuref8.59pm George Eustice (who tabled an amendment to the motion) said he will abstain, because he feels he cannot support the government. They should be doing far more to speed up the renegotiation process, Eustice said. Eustice also criticised William Hague's speech, and Hague's idea of renegotiation at a later date. 

8.57pm Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness): We are not a direct democracy, we are a representative democracy - referendums are the wrong way forward.

8.42pm Douglas Carswell commands the House to "look at the collective mess" of the European project. He lists red tape, the Eurozone and the CFP as big faults of the EU. "This is the price we pay" by allowing too much control of policy by civil servants. "It is time to give the people of Europe a say". "This is not about flags or anthems or identity, it is about whether it is right for millions of people to have their lives arranged for them by technocrats. It is about democracy." Carswell calls tonight the night to restore pride in Parliament. "This evening we have a chance to keep our promises. To honour our word. To keep faith in our country." Carswell also paid tribute to the "indeed honourable" Members for Peterborough and Gravesham (see 8.17pm and 5.55pm).

8.17pm Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) resigns as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Jackson highlights his loyalty to the Party (26 years of service) that "runs through [his] veins". He adds "as a former whip", the government has "catastrophically mismanaged" the whipping operation. The government has been "heavy-handed", and "has no mandate to whip" as they have tonight. Jackson stresses his unwillingness to break the trust of his constituents by voting against a referendum. Jackson finishes his contribution, saying "With a heavy heart, I will vote for the motion and I will take the consequences".

8.07pm Jacob Rees-Mogg blames William Hague's six points (see 4.56pm below) on the Lib Dems because he says Foreign Secretary too clever for them to be his own because they don't add up. Some of Hague's points were trivial, he says. Hague had said Tory manifesto and Coalition Agreement didn't cover what was now proposed but JRM said Eurozone crisis was not known with clarity at time manifestos were written. He also dismissed the point about a three way referendum, saying motion only called for a Bill that could introduce a solution to ensure the people's voice was clearly heard. Once a fan of continuing coalition with the Lib Dems he blames his Coalition partners for frustrating what a united Conservative Party wants - renegotiation. He urges the Lib Dems to go to the country arguing for more integration and more Europe. He predicts they won't win many votes. He ends by encouraging the Government to behave like a tiger to the EU in negotiations, not like a bagpuss.

8.02pm John Baron scoffs at the suggestion that now is not the time to hold a referendum. We are always told that now is not the right time and have been told as much for 35 years. He also scoffs at the referendum lock, saying that competences are transferred on an almost daily basis to the EU. We joined a free trade area but it has become something more like a political union.

7.53pm John Redwood tells the Commons in a stirring address that the House was great when it was sovereign and when the people knew it mattered. The British people deserve a vote, he says.

7.51pm Gisela Stuart: If politicians don't trust the people why should the people trust the politicians?

7.45pm Bernard Jenkin says we need EU reform to boost the economy and to force the Government's hand. In case you missed it earlier BJ was on good form on BBCTV earlier, making the case for today's motion.

7.38pm Frank Field says Tory backbenches are more in touch with Labour voters on Europe than the Labour leadership.

7.20pm Philip Hollobone says the demand for a referendum isn't a right-wing demand but a demand from people from all political parties. He quotes ConHome poll which found 64% of Tory members don't think Cameron is serious about renegotiating.

7.08pm: Jake Berry speaks against motion, saying City of London could be damaged by uncertainty surrounding referendum.

Casheuref6.56pm A storming speech from Bill Cash. Cash says "it's absolute rubbish" that a referendum would undermine economic growth. Cash goes on to say "this is a failed project, this is an undemocratic project... this vote is in the national interest, because it is for democracy, for trust in politics and for the integrity of this House."

6.44pm Another Labour left-winger, Ian Davidson, has some advice for the Conservatives: "If you want to stop the drift to UKIP, you actually have to stand up for what you said you were going to do when you entered the general election."

6.37pm Sir Malcolm Rifkind says a referendum would constrain Britain in any repatriation-of-power negotiations. Tim tweets that the opposite is true.

6.18pm Charles Walker (Broxbourne) rises, simply asks "If not now, when?", and sits down! 

6.15pm Left-wing Labour MP John Cryer notes William Hague will not be voting on the motion tonight (he will be going to Australia for a Commonwealth meeting): "I'm sure it's nothing to do with missing tonight's vote, and any suggestion that it is is absolutely scurrilous".

5.55pm Adam Holloway (Gravesham) has effectively resigned as a Parliamentary Private Secretary - significantly - to the Europe Minister, David Lidington. In Holloway's contribution to the debate, he says "I'm really staggered that loyal people like me have actually been put in this position. If Britain's future as an independent country is not a proper matter for a referendum, then I have absolutely no idea what is." Bill Cash intervenes to commend Holloway for his resignation. 

4.56pm: William Hague begins his contribution by attacking Ed Miliband. By keeping the door open to UK membership of the Euro the Labour leader proves he's out of touch with economic reality as well as public opinion. He says that all of the Treaties of the last twenty years would have been caught by the Coalition's referendum lock.

HagueHague offers six reasons for rejecting motion:

  1. A referendum on UK membership of EU would add unnecessary uncertainty at an already uncertain economic time;
  2. The Tory election manifesto didn't include an In/Out referendum;
  3. The Coalition has passed a referendum lock that protects the British people against any further transfer of power without their consent;
  4. Britain might lose influence in looming budget and other negotiations if Britain is seen as potentially about to leave EU;
  5. A three way referendum is innovative but flawed, because unless it was run under a preferential system (which has just been rejected by voters) a decisive result might not be possible;
  6. The Conservative leadership is committed to repatriating powers as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

4.48pm: In brief intervention Andrew Bridgen MP says I've had lots of calls/ emails asking me to vote for referendum but only one against and that was from the Government!


4.34pm: Cameron leaves before David Nuttall, the originator of the motion even stands up. Mr Nuttall begins by saying argument that a referendum would happen now is "irrelevant". He says motion has no date and if passed a referendum might still be "years away". He says that William Hague may say he wants to be in Europe but not run by Europe but, in reality, Britain is being run by Europe. He repeats the argument he made on ConHome earlier; 84% of us have never had a chance to vote on EU membership. Implicitly predicting defeat DN says "the battle" might be lost today but the tide of opinion is riding in favour of a referendum and "the war" will be won.


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