Cameron under attack over EU membership vote


British Prime Minister David Cameron was accused on Friday (10 January) of grandstanding to anti-Europe voters and caving in to Eurosceptic party members with his backing of a referendum on European Union membership.

Trailing in the polls before an election next year, Cameron has thrown his weight behind efforts to guarantee a referendum before 2017. The opposition Labour party is fighting the move.

On Friday, senior parliamentarian Peter Mandelson, a former European commissioner, accused Cameron of being "taken hostage" by the sceptics in his party and of pandering to supporters of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP).

"My message to the government is 'stop grandstanding to the UKIP gallery'," Mandelson said during a debate in the upper house of parliament. "My experience has made me decidedly pro-reform of the EU, but not in favour of a pig-in-a-poke referendum in this country designed to bridge the divisions within the Conservative Party."

Cameron, leader of the Conservative-led coalition government, wants Britain to remain within Europe but is trying to renegotiate the country's role in the 28-nation bloc.

"Today the EU Referendum Bill moves to the House of Lords. Join my call for an in-out referendum by the end of 2017 at, " Cameron tweeted.

The push for a referendum has helped unite the fractious Conservatives, after divisions over Europe challenged Cameron's authority last year. Even so, the party has lost voters to UKIP, whose leader, Nigel Farage, has tapped into concerns over immigration and the impact of EU membership on British life.

The issues of EU membership and immigration are tangled together politically, particularly since the start of the year. Beginning in 2014, restrictions ended on employment in the UK for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, both EU members.

A YouGov survey on Friday showed UKIP, which calls for withdrawal from the EU, has around 13% of public support even though it holds no seats in parliament.

Labour is leading opinion polls with 38% support, putting it six percentage points ahead of the Conservatives. It does not rule out a referendum in the future but says the 2017 guarantee would hurt investment and weaken Britain's economy.

Labour could block passage of the legislation in the upper house with the help of the Liberal Democrat party, the junior partner in the coalition. The bill is moving through an unorthodox legislative channel that imposes strict time limits on debates. It must be passed by the upper house before 28 February.

Even if passed, legislation on a referendum could be reversed if the Conservatives lose the election due in May 2015.

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evad666's picture

If there really is no democratic deficit in Brussels why does Luxembourg appear to have so many posts in the commission?
the net suggests Luxembourg has 11, Holland has 8,
Ireland has 9, Greece has 8, France has 17, Germany has 14, Belgium has 9 and the UK has 13 surely now we have 29 member states either all nations should have a baseline of 1 or all should have a baseline of 1 and an additional commissioner per % of GDP, or % of population.
exactly how does it work?

Emanuele's picture

Eva, I don't understand you question. What do you mean by "posts in the commission"?
The European Commission has 28 Commissioner, one for each member state.

Otto's picture

So, only 13% of Britons clearly support withdrawal from the EU, and 38% want to stay.

This is way fewer than europhobes on this site love to think.
So much of the factoid "every Briton hate the EU and want Brexit badly".

Can't wait for the results of the 2017 referendum. I foresee a lot of tears in the UKIP office;)

tony a's picture

"A YouGov survey" was the clue Otto, YouGov is the government ProEU propaganda site owned by Barrenness Ashtons husband & heavily PRO EU & politically weighted in favor of the three main party's.

The main independent polls from November put UKIP on 20%(Opinium poll) & the (ComRes poll) has UKIP on 19%. Survation’s Poll just released show UKIP now on 25%. At that rate of growth UKIP are set to wipe the floor with LIBLABCON in the 2014 European elections & will be the main political party in the UK by 2017.

This is why CaMoron, Millipede & Cleggy are making so much noise about Immigration & benefits. They have seen the political winds have changed & are in total fear that UKIP will sweep to power in the European elections leaving them out in the political wilderness.