Adam Afriye, the ambitious MP for Windsor, yesterday announced he would table an amendment to the existing EU referendum bill that would require a vote to be held next October.
But he was left embarrassed when leading Eurosceptic Tory politicians – who have already forced the Prime Minister to set out plans for an in/out to be held in 2017 – pointedly failed to give him their support.
Afriye, who has denied claims he is trying to build support ahead of a possible leadership run, said he had a “struggle with my conscience” over whether to table the amendment. But he said a 2017 vote is too late, since voters would not reward the Tories at the next general election.
But colleagues said it could wreck the existing plan.
“No Eurosceptic should back Adam Afriyie’s amendment, which would have the sole effect of jeopardising the passage of the referendum bill,” said Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.