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Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney backs call for referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union

VOTERS should decide if Britain remains a member of the European Union, says a local MP.

VOTERS should decide if Britain remains a member of the European Union, says a local MP.

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney is backing calls for a referendum which could lead to the UK leaving the 27-member group.

But his colleague, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, opposes the idea.

MPs will vote next week on whether Britain’s continued membership of the European Union (EU) should be put to voters in a referendum.

The Commons backbench business committee has ordered a debate on the highly-charged issue for October 27 after more than 100,000 people signed a petition demanding a choice.

In 1975 British voters supported remaining part of the then-European Common Market.

But Mr McCartney, who was seven at the time, believes a new referendum is needed.

“I’ve never had a vote on this,” said the Conservative yesterday. “We should have a say because people signed up for a common market.”

Mr McCartney said: “When we have the debate on the European issue, I will be supporting a call for an in-out referendum on our continued membership of the EU.”

But the backbencher said his decision on how to vote in any referendum would “depend on the wording”.

“I want to see massive repatriation of powers so we have total control of our budget,” he said.

“I want to see the countries of Europe working together but I don’t want political or legal union.

“I would like to see the wording of the referendum allow us to vote to continue trading with Europe but take back all political and legal structures.”

Mr McCartney added that many of his constituents were concerned about the EU.

“It keeps cropping up, like with the issues of prisoners voting and the euro bailout,” he said.

“It’s a running issue and it would be quite nice to sort it out.”

Mr McCartney has joined a new 120-strong group of Euro-sceptic Conservative MPs who are pushing for Britain to take back some powers from Brussels.

“I think it was a good idea for us to come together in an organised structure,” he said.

“There are ministers and whips involved and new MPs as well as old MPs.

“It’s not just the old head-banging right-wingers.”

Reports yesterday suggested Euro-sceptic backbenchers may be subjected to a three-line whip requiring them to follow their leader in voting against a referendum, though some expect a less strict single-line whip, which is not binding.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: “We have not set out the precise whipping arrangements, but we have a clear policy on a referendum and that is that there should be a referendum if there is a transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels.

“As a general principle, the Prime Minister would expect MPs to support the Government’s position on an issue.”

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman linked referenda with tyrannical regimes.

The Labour man said: “We have elections for MPs who make decisions in Parliament.

“Referendums are not part of our historic democracy, they are the kind of thing that Italian and South American dictators use.”

Mr Sheerman added that leaving the EU would be a bad idea.

He said: “When 60% of our exports go to Europe it would be ignorant to cut ourselves off from our economic lifeline.

But the EU had faults.

He said: “I’m very unhappy that the European Union is too bureaucratic and slow.”

“But when you’re a member of a union, you get in there and change the rules, you don’t leave.”

 

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