A bid by eurosceptic MPs to give the British people the right to have an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union has been overwhelmingly defeated in the Commons.
The call by veteran Tory Peter Bone was defeated by 295 votes to 26, Government majority 269.
Mr Bone called for people to be given the right to have their say on the UK’s continued membership of the EU if the public voted “no” in a referendum held under the European Union Bill.
Under his proposal a victory for the “no” campaign in a referendum would trigger a second plebiscite which could see the UK break with Brussels.
Mr Bone, who was speaking during the Bill’s fifth day of committee stage debate said: “If this new clause is passed there would have to be binding in/out referendum on our membership of the European Union if two hurdles are cleared.
“One: a referendum is triggered under the European Union Bill due to a proposed transfer of competency. Two: and the British people vote against such a transfer of power.”
Labour former minister Kate Hoey, a supporter of Mr Bone’s attempt to change the Bill, said the “establishment” parties “do not want the British people to have a say on whether to stay in or move out of the European Union”.
Tory Philip Hollobone said people were “fed up” with a Europe which left “all and sundry” from EU member states free to come to the UK, but Labour MP John Mann said the Tories were split between the “little Britainers” and MPs who realised the demands of big business and supported further European integration.
Europe Minister David Liddington told MPs the Government did not support Mr Bone’s call. He told him: “I do not think this new clause adds to the safeguards we have already provided.”
The vote marked the end of the Bill’s committee stage and it will come back to the Commons for report stage and third reading at a later date.