MPs are scheduled to debate Adam Afriyie’s amendment for a 2014 EU referendum on November 8.
Excerpts follow (emphases mine):
… In my experience, people do not understand why there is such a vicious backlash from some quarters. The Conservative Party members and councillors who have written to me in the last few weeks are equally bewildered. So I urge people who are reading this article to write to their MP as well to voice their opinion, whether they disagree or agree with the amendment – these letters make a real difference.
People believe that their MPs – who they voted into parliament to represent them – should at least have a say on this matter either way, for or against; otherwise the British people are, quite literally, silenced …
Attacking the amendment gives people the impression that our political establishment does not want to give the them a say on our relationship with Europe; does not trust the British people to vote; does not want to face facts and tackle this issue once and for all. They do believe we’re going to kick the EU-can down the road and attacking my amendment only reinforces this impression.
I agree with Lord Owen, who is free to speak his mind as a crossbencher and supported an early referendum a few months ago. He says that the public are ‘democrats who cannot and will not be fobbed off by politicians from having their say’. Lord Owen supports the UK’s membership of the European Union; supporting an early referendum does not mean you necessarily support leaving the EU. There will be two choices on the ballot paper.
As a backbench MP who has been elected to represent my constituents, one of my responsibilities is to critically evaluate legislation and suggest amendments where I feel an error has been made. That is one of the primary functions of an MP. And it is important that nobody is bullied out of doing so.
… I am thankful for the many productive discussions that we have all had over the last few days and hope we can all use the next three weeks to carefully consider all of the arguments.
But, above all, when MPs vote on this amendment on 8 November I hope that my colleagues will vote on the basis of what they think is the best for their constituents rather than what the Party whip has said that morning. This is not a Government Bill, it is a private members Bill, and I know the British people will be watching.
Although Conservative Home readers are also hostile to Afriyie’s amendment, others expressed bewilderment at this nastiness. They brought up the following points:
– The difference between what the Conservative Party grandees say versus the true conservatism voiced at the grassroots level, including blogs.
– Their disregard for what ‘Cast Iron’ David Cameron says — what can they believe?
– How welcome it was to see an MP stand up for the wishes of the British people — 55% of them.