Cameron caves in to Eurosceptics on EU referendum rules and date change

U-turn from Cameron aims to prevent government’s first mass rebellion

David Cameron has performed a dizzying about-turn on the timing and rules surrounding the UK’s promised EU membership referendum.

After earlier saying that voters were “quite capable of going to a polling booth and making two important decisions rather than just one”, Cameron has now doubled back, and ruled out holding the referendum on May 6 2016, alongside the votes for Mayor of London, Scottish parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies.

“We’ve listened to the views expressed from MPs across the House and agreed that we won’t hold the referendum on the same day as legislature elections,” a government spokesman said last night.

A powerful group of backbenchers had already hit out at the early date, saying it favoured pro-EU campaigners.

They also urged the prime minister to look at the rules surrounding the publication of parliamentary documents in the build-up to the referendum.

A 28-day period of “purdah” is needed, during which no documents supporting or disparaging the EU are published by government, the rebels argued.

Cameron’s U-turn on the date, and his agreement to reassess the rules mean he will likely stave-off the government’s first big rebellion.

The change means the government is now expected to be looking at dates for the referendum during the summer next year, or as late as 2017.

Now read

Social Bookmarks