David Cameron will make one more attempt to get his plan for a in/out EU referendum by 2017 into law before the 2015 general election.
The prime minister’s tried last year to get his pledge on to the statute book via a Private Members Bill introduced by backbencher James Wharton. But he was blocked by the Labour Party in the House of Lords.
He was unable to introduce the legislation as a government Bill in today’s Queen’s Speech as Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are opposed. However the Tory chairman Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that the Conservatives would have another go at getting a Private Members Bill through before 2015.
“The Lib Dems will no have an EU referendum,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme. “However next week, when we have the lottery, if a Conservative MP wins it, we will re-introduce a Bill to have a referendum by 2017. I challenge the Lib Dems and Labour Party and in fact Ukip peers to support it.”
Shapps’ pledge means that if a Conservative backbencher comes top of the Private Members Bill ballot they will face under intense pressure from Downing Street to pick up its EU Referendum Bill. MPs usually enter the draw in the hope they will be able to introduce legislation on a specific issue that is close to their, or their constituents, hearts – rather than act as a vehicle for the party leadership.