Prime Minister David Cameron will hit the road again this week for more one-on-one meetings with European leaders, while MPs in the House of Commons gear up for more divisive debate over the EU referendum bill.
Cameron is due to visit Italy, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Slovenia later this week, as well as welcome the president of the European parliament and the Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) to London for bilateral talks. The Prime Minister has said that he hopes to meet face-to-face with each of his European counterparts ahead of next week’s European Council in Brussels.
Number 10 has confirmed that the Prime Minister will use the meeting of the EU’s heads of state and government to officially put his renegotiation efforts on the agenda.
At the same time, the Prime Minister is bracing for another battle in Westminster, with a possible backbencher rebellion looming over the EU referendum bill. The legislation is due to enter the committee stage today, and MPs from all parties have put forward dozens of amendments, including one to impose a “purdah” period before an in/out referendum.
Former cabinet member Owen Paterson said on the BBC over the weekend that purdah is “crucial”.
“It is unacceptable that there will be no limit to local government, national government or above all European government agencies spending money sending information to citizens and that is going to skew the whole thing,” Paterson said.
The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said yesterday that while the government’s position had not changed on the issue, it was looking forward to today’s opportunity “to discuss with MPs how we address it”.
“MPs have clearly expressed views on this and it’s right we use the committee and stages the bill and beyond to see if there are ways to address this,” she said.