MPs urge Cameron to speed up EU vote

More than 100 Conservative MPs challenged David Cameron yesterday to accelerate his promise to hold a referendum on loosening Britain's ties with the European Union.

The Prime Minister is facing an ominous new rebellion less than three months after winning backbench plaudits for his pledge to hold a referendum on the UK's membership if he wins the next general election in 2015. Eurosceptic MPs are now pressing him to bring in legislation before the election to pave the way to the vote on the EU.

A letter calling on him to support the move and requesting a meeting was delivered to Downing Street by the Basildon and Billericay MP, John Baron. He said: "It is a strongly worded letter but it is congratulatory of the Prime Minister. The referendum promise had to be credible and believable – we got credible because the referendum has an 'out' option. That box has been ticked but we also need it to be believable... manifesto promises are not believable enough."

He added: "There would be no downside in trying to pass this legislation. If it were voted down, it would be abundantly clear which politicians are with the public in their wish for a referendum. This issue has been subject to cynical politics for too long.

He said that "a number" of Government members had privately expressed sympathy with the idea, but had not been approached to sign.

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