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Northampton MPs deny people a vote on Europe

November 17, 2007 10:00 AM
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"Labour and the Tories have rejected our call for the public to vote on the UK's membership of the European Union."

Liberal Democrats in Northampton are calling on Northampton's Labour and Conservative MP's, Sally Keeble and Brian Binley, to explain to local residents why they didn't back a proposal for people to have their say on Europe.

Labour and the Conservatives voted together on Wednesday 14th November to deny the public a crucial vote on whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union. A Liberal Democrat amendment to the Queen's Speech laid out proposals for a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Northampton North Constituency, Andrew Simpson, said, "Labour and the Tories have rejected our call for the public to vote on the UK's membership of the European Union. Whilst Labour's Sally Keeble joined with the Labour and Conservative leadership to block the people from having their say, Northampton South Conservative MP Brian Binley was not even present to vote.

"Membership of the European Union is hugely positive for Britain. Cheaper goods, better environmental protection, increased freedom to work and live abroad, and a stronger framework for tackling international crime are just some of the benefits. But the EU has changed beyond recognition since we last had a referendum in 1975. No member of the public under the age of fifty has had the opportunity to vote on the crucial cumulative changes that have taken place over the last few decades.

"The case for a referendum to endorse, or reject, Britain's membership of this very different European Union is overwhelming and the Liberal Democrats will be proud to lead the pro-Europe case.

"It is disappointing that Labour and Conservatives joined forces to defeat the call for the people to have a referendum. Both our Northampton MP's must now explain to the people of the town why they denied them a say."

Ends

Notes to editors

Background details

On Wednesday 14th November, the House of Commons rejected an amendment to the Queen's Speech by the Liberal Democrats calling for a referendum on membership of the European Union. Whilst Liberal Democrats continue to argue positively for the UK remaining members of the EU, the actual institutions of Europe have developed considerably since the European referendum of 1975. Anyone currently below the age of 50 in the UK has therefore not had the opportunity to take part in a direct vote about the development of the EU and the pooling of national sovereignty this involves.

The Liberal Democrats therefore reject the call for a referendum on the technical issues arising from the amending treaty which has replaced the proposed European Constitution. Instead, we argue that there should be a more fundamental referendum about whether or not Britain should continue as a member. Liberal Democrats would, in such a referendum, argue strongly in favour of remaining in the Union. We also believe that a public debate about Europe would focus people's attention on the benefits of the EU in way that could never be achieved by holding a very limited referendum on the amending treaty.