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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine