Tory MP Adam Afriyie throws Tories into turmoil by calling for early EU referendum

Windsor MP - once touted as a future party leader - says public 'not convinced' David Cameron would stick to his pledge after a general election win

A Tory backbencher once touted as a successor to David Cameron has called for an in/out referendum on EU membership before the next general election.

Adam Afriyie says he will table an amendment to the European Union (Referendum) Bill, bringing forward any such vote to 23 October 2014.

The bill, which in its current form would lead to a referendum in 2017, got overwhelming backing from the House of Commons in July, with all Conservative MPs voting for it.

Most Labour and  Liberal Democrat MPs abstained after their leaders dismissed it as a stunt by David Cameron to placate angry backbenchers.

The bill will reach the report stage next month, and today Mr Afriyie, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said the public was "not convinced" the Prime Minister would stick to his pledge of a vote if the Conservatives win the general election.

The Windsor MP also said an early referendum would boost the party in its bid to keep their instinctive supporters from switching to Ukip.

Claiming support from "many MPs from across all the main parties", he went on: "It's in our national interest to resolve this issue as soon as possible to create the certainty and stability our country needs for the future.

"Only by setting an early date can we kick-start EU renegotiation talks and give the British people what they so clearly want - a say on our country's future with Europe.

"The political establishment are naturally hesitant but we have nothing to fear by giving people a chance to have their say, either way, on our future relationship with Europe."

A spokesman for Number 10 said Mr Cameron would not throw his support behind the amendment as he did the original bill. He said: "The PM will not let it stand," and insisted it would not be allowed to pass "in any circumstances".

And even James Wharton, the MP who sponsored the private member's bill, warned that the amendment could damage the chances of a referendum.

He said: "This amendment would make it far more difficult to navigate the challenging procedural hurdles we need to overcome and I hope its sponsors might rethink their approach.

"We need to build as broad a base of support for the bill as we can if we are to get it through Parliament and the policy of a renegotiation, followed by an in/out referendum, is the right one to do that and the right one for the country."

Speculation about Mr Afriyie's high ambitions began early this year after after three right-leaning Sunday newspapers reported a “well-organised” campaign to secure him the leadership.

His backers say his life story - as the state-educated son of Ghanaian father and an English mother, and a self-made multi-millionaire - could widen the party's appeal to voters.

At the time of the rumours Mr Afriyie - who was a frontbench spokesman in opposition but excluded from government - said: “I will never stand against David Cameron. I am 100 per cent supportive of David Cameron... There is no truth to any of it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

News
The Bounceway, designed by Architecture for Humanity
newsLondon to add 'The Bounceway' to commuting options
Life and Style
Stefan Gates with some mince flies
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Life and Style
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
tech
Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

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

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - IT Outsourcing - £70,000 OTE

£30000 - £40000 per annum + £70,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen / Interiors Designer - Maternity Cover

£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company with a fast ...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Counter Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This Market Leading Kitchen and joinery suppli...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Carpenter / Carpentry

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior Carpenter / Carpentry ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital