Tory Eurosceptics to defy David Cameron again by demanding referendum on Europe is held on the same day as general election

PM tells Conservative MPs he will not make any more concessions over EU vote

Conservative MPs are to defy David Cameron again by demanding that a referendum on Europe is held on the same day as the next general election.

The Prime Minister declared that he would not be budged from his promise to hold an in/out referendum by the end of 2017. But despite his attempts to draw a line under recent Tory divisions on Europe and gay marriage, his Eurosceptic MPs are already planning their next moves to force him to firm up his pledge.

They have virtually written off the prospects of a Private Member’s Bill guaranteeing a 2017 referendum becoming law. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are determined to block it and few backbench Bills make progress without cross-party backing. Although James Wharton, a Tory MP, will press ahead with his Bill,  some Eurosceptics are already describing it as a “dead duck.”

Instead, senior Tories will urge Mr Cameron to bring forward the referendum to May 7, 2015, when the next election will be held. They believe that this would boost the Tories’ prospects at the election because they are likely to be the only party offering a vote on Europe.

Although legislation would be required, the Eurosceptics want the Prime Minister to bring in a government Bill and challenge Nick Clegg to vote it down. They argue that an election day referendum would unite the Conservative Party.

Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin and a former secretary of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, favours such a referendum. He said: “I still believe we can still win the next general election under David Cameron as we continue to deliver on cutting the deficit, reducing immigration, turning the corner on the economy, and delivering a Bill for an EU referendum. However, any Bill should be both deliverable and credible”.

He added: “There is much the Government is doing right – and far more that unites than divides us as a party. We all need to put the last few difficult days behind us and focus on taking the fight to Labour.”

Allies of Mr Cameron are worried that changing course on the referendum date would fuel Labour claims that he is “weak” and being pushed around by his backbenchers.

The Prime Minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It doesn’t matter the pressure I come under from outside the Conservative Party, or in Europe, or inside the Conservative Party, this policy isn’t going to change. The question isn’t going to change. The number of referenda isn’t going to change. The date by which we hold this referendum isn’t going to change. The fact is it’s the right policy for the country.”

Mr Cameron said: “That is the boldest, clearest, most straightforward policy on Europe that any party leader has had for 30 or 40 years. So it’s that sort of leadership, that sort of clarity that’s required.

Mr Clegg told journalists the Coalition would last until 2015 despite a "difference of opinion on Europe" between its two parties. He said  the Tories’ position on Europe was "shifting fast". He did not "understand why they were tying themselves in knots trying to move the goalposts" when there was already legislation in place to ensure a referendum if there were any major EU treaty changes. However, that law would trigger a referendum if  more powers were transferred from the UK to the EU. Mr Cameron wants to repatriate some powers from Brussels to Britain.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: "Anyone who is war-gaming about what may or may not happen in my party is wasting their time. I am going to be leader of this party up to, through and beyond the next general election. The Lib Dems, despite all the predictions to the contrary, have proved to be the calmest, most resilient and most united party in British politics today."

Mental health sufferers put at disadvantage

People with mental health problems are unfairly disadvantaged by the Government’s system for assessing their capability to work, High Court judges have ruled.

The decision in the Upper Tribunal affects hundreds of thousands of Britons who suffer from poor mental health, learning difficulties and autism. A judicial review was brought by two anonymous welfare claimants, who said the procedure used to decide who qualifies for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was discriminatory.

Under the current system, the burden is placed on the claimant to gather evidence from a professional, such as a GP or social worker, which can be a struggle for those with mental health problems.

A DWP spokesman said the department intended to appeal.

Emily Dugan

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living