We WILL have EU referendum: Cameron drafts Bill to quell Tory revolt - and wins Barack Obama's support

Prime Minister’s plan for EU vote backed by President Obama

The Conservatives have unveiled the question which will be posed in a referendum on Britain's future in Europe if David Cameron wins the next general election.

Voters will be asked the yes-or-no question: "Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?"

The wording was revealed in a draft bill published by the Conservative Party today with the timing is designed to limit a revolt in the Commons and put pressure on the Liberal Democrats and Labour, who oppose committing now to a referendum some years away.

Mr Cameron is attempting to quell a growing rebellion by his MPs over Europe, after Barack Obama urged them to give the Prime Minister the space to win a better deal from the EU before Britain decides whether or not to leave it.

The draft Bill will be seen as a way to strengthen Mr Cameron’s promise of a referendum if his party wins the 2015 general election.

It is unlikely to be introduced as a government measure because the Liberal Democrats oppose the idea. But it could make progress through Parliament as a backbench Bill. A Conservative source said: “We will examine all the options to bring this Bill before Parliament, including a Private Member’s Bill, in keeping with what the Prime Minister has said.”

At least 78 MPs, including 67 Tories,  have taken the unusual step of signing an amendment to last week’s Queen’s Speech regretting the absence of an EU referendum Bill. Ministers have been told they can abstain in a vote on it due tomorrow, but backbenchers and ministerial aides will be allowed to support the amendment.

If the Bill starts its passage through Parliament, Mr Cameron hopes it will “shine a spotlight” on his referendum pledge and counter the recent surge by the UK Independence Party. He also hopes the Bill will put the Liberal Democrats and Labour on the spot by forcing them to decide quickly whether they support or oppose giving the public a say on Britain’s position in Europe.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Prime Minister at the White House, the United States President made clear that his administration would prefer the UK to remain in the EU club but said the final decision was a matter for the British people. He said: “David’s basic point – that you probably want to see if you can fix what’s broken in a very important relationship before you break it off –  makes some sense to me.”

Barack Obama went on: “The UK’s participation in the EU is an expression of its influence and its role in the world, as well as, obviously, a very important economic partnership.”

However, the President acknowledged that Mr Cameron faced “tough negotiations” over reform of the EU and stopped short of predicting success for Mr Cameron. “I would be interested in seeing whether or not those are successful before rendering a final judgement,” he said.

Mr Obama’s intervention, welcomed by Cameron aides, is significant because Tory Eurosceptics argue that the UK’s much-trumpeted “special relationship” with the US could be strengthened if Britain left the EU. In their talks at the White House, the two leaders discussed plans for a historic EU-US trade deal, which pro-Europeans hope will become a selling point for continued UK membership.

Asked how he would vote if an EU referendum were held now, Mr Cameron told the press conference: “There’s a very good reason why there’s not going to be a referendum tomorrow, [and that’s] because it would give the British public, I think, an entirely false choice between the status quo ... and leaving.”

Mr Cameron said: “Everything is driven by what is in the British national interest. That is what I’m going to deliver. It’s absolutely right for our country. It has very strong support throughout the country and in the Conservative Party and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Earlier, Mr Cameron rebuked two Cabinet ministers for suggesting they would vote for Britain to quit the EU. He dismissed the question as “hypothetical” after the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, became the most senior Conservatives to indicate they would consider supporting Britain’s exit from the EU if a vote were held now.

The Prime Minister also criticised former Cabinet ministers, including Lord Lawson and Michael Portillo, for suggesting the UK should pull out. “The point I would make to those people is you should not give up before a negotiation has started. It seems to be an extraordinary way to go about things,” he said. “The idea of throwing in the towel before the negotiations have even started, I think, is a very, very strange opinion.”

Britain will double military support for Syrian rebels to help them withstand the “onslaught” from Bashar Assad’s regime, Mr Cameron announced. Spending on non-lethal military equipment, such as body armour and armed vehicles, is being increased this year from £10m to £20m.

Mr Cameron flew to Boston to visit the site of last month’s marathon bombings, in which three people were killed. He will fly to New York later where he will meet Prince Harry to bang the drum for British exports.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
i100
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

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes