Tory MP fears his EU vote law will be derailed

THE CONSERVATIVE MP pushing a law that would require a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU yesterday warned that opponents will attempt to use parliamentary procedure to derail the legislation.

James Wharton will introduce his draft law, mandating a vote by 2017, as a private member’s bill on Friday.

It is expected to sail through its second reading but could be bumped off the agenda at a later date due to time constraints.

“I discourage colleagues from all sides from tabling amendments,” Wharton said. “The more time we spend discussing amendments, the more likely it is that we run out of time.”

Opponents are expected to try and talk out the legislation if it enters committee stage. But Wharton also said fellow Eurosceptic Tory MPs could delay the legislation by attempting to bring the vote date forward to 2015.

Although the bill was drafted by the Conservatives Wharton told City A.M. that it was not a political stunt.

“It is not a Conservative party bill,” he said. “It will be a cross-party committee that will look it and I hope we will get some Labour and Lib Dem MPs on that. The Conservative party hit the ground first but I would strongly encourage other parties to get out there – I welcome support from any MP of any colour.”

John Mills, the largest individual donor to the Labour party, agreed it was important to build a cross-party support: “Labour people who feel strongly in favour what we’re trying to achieve have got to come on board. It’s a political reality that you have shifting coalitions in politics when major issues come up. This is why we need a referendum.”

Both were speaking at the launch of the non-partisan I Support A Referendum campaign, which claims the backing of both Labour and Tory MPs.