BORIS Johnson, the Mayor of London, yesterday broke ranks with the Tory leadership by insisting that the treaty changes being proposed by European leaders would need to be put to the British public in a referendum.
Johnson’s call for a referendum on plans for a “very dominant economic government” in Europe directly contradicts David Cameron’s claims a vote is unnecessary.
By intervening, the Mayor has added his voice to a growing number of senior Conservatives who are calling for a referendum on Europe.
Yesterday, Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson followed fellow cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith by calling for a vote. Paterson told the Spectator magazine that any “major fundamental change in our relationship” with Europe would lead to increased pressure for a referendum, adding that such a vote was “inevitable”.
But despite earlier pledging to repatriate powers from Brussels to London, Cameron yesterday said he would demand only “safeguards” to protect Britain’s interests.
Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked Cameron for failing to stand up for the UK.
“Six weeks ago he was promising his backbenchers a handbagging for Europe now he is just reduced to hand-wringing,” said Miliband at Prime Minister’s Questions.