Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has said the Conservatives are ‘serious and united’ in supporting a referendum on the membership of UK the European Union.
Despite being known for his Euro-sceptic stance, Mr Herbert was not one of the 116 rebel Tory backbenchers to vote last week for an amendment to the Queen’s Speech so that it includes the EU Referendum Bill.
He said: “I’m a strong supporter of a referendum and want to see legislation to pave the way for it. However, I didn’t think it was sensible to force a vote on an amendment to The Queen’s Speech because ministers could not possibly support that.
“A far better plan is now in play - all MPs will be able to vote on the Private Member’s Bill to introduce a referendum, and I will be enthusiastically voting for this on Friday July 5.
“Then people will be able to see that Conservatives are serious and united in supporting a referendum which the other parties oppose.”
Horsham MP Francis Maude also chose not to support a call for an amendment. Speaking before the vote he said: “My view is that we want our relationship to be a different one from what it is.
“If there’s a Conservative-led Government after the next election, we will re-negotiate arrangements with the European Union. We’ve a commitment to a referendum in 2015, which will give the public the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
“It will need to be a different relationship. I think people are very disillusioned with the EU as it is. There’s a lot of bureaucracy to overcome, and I think people would like to see it different in future.”
Mr Maude also said that there are ‘some encouraging signs’, with proposals for deregulation being considered by the EU’s lawmaking and decision-making body.