Labour filibuster sidelines in/out EU referendum Bill
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 08 November 2013
A Bill to enshrine in law David Cameron's pledge to hold an in/out referendum on Europe in 2017 ran into the buffers today as Labour MPs staged a Commons filibuster.
The Private Member's Bill, introduced by Conservative MP James Wharton, will return to the Commons on 22 November but stands little chance of becoming law because the Liberal Democrats will not allow the Conservatives to provide more Parliamentary time.
Adam Afriyie, a Tory MP, accused Labour of wanting to "gag the British people". He defied Mr Cameron by calling for the referendum to be brought forward to next year, warning that the Tories risked "throwing away the 2015 election" by delaying the EU vote until afterwards.
Rival whips clashed over Labour's time-wasting tactics. Claire Perry, a new Tory whip, newly promoted in the September reshuffle, accused the Opposition on Twitter of "playing silly buggers". Labour's Graham Jones responded that he did not "appreciate attempts to physically pick me up nor whips threats".
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