There will be no 5 May EU referendum vote as Cameron offers concession to Eurosceptics

 
Billy Ehrenberg
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Holding the referendum on 5 May likely would have dealt a blow to Eurosceptics (Source: Getty)

In the fight over the EU referendum, the Eurosceptics have won a point.

The date for the ballot will not now be 5 May 2016, after ministers tabled an amendment to the referendum bill on Monday evening. The amendment comes before David Cameron embarks on a series of one-to-one meetings with EU leaders this week.

Read more: A third of Britons would vote to leave the EU

The amendment specifically prohibits the staging of the vote on that day – the same date as voters will go to the polls for Scottish parliament and Welsh and Scottish assemblies, and local elections will be held in 126 local authorities across the UK. There will also be mayoral elections held on that date.

Holding the referendum on 5 May likely would have dealt a blow to Eurosceptics, as turnout would probably boost turnout in pro-Europe regions.

Staging the vote that early on in the government’s term in power was seen as a way of capitalising on the post-election honeymoon.

A government spokesperson said:

We have listened to the views expressed by MPs across the house and decided that we won't hold the referendum on 5 May 2016.

The government will also have to address MPs’ concerns over a "purdah" period – the time before the referendum during which campaigning will be suspended. The imposition of such restrictions is favoured by Eurosceptics.

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