I believe that the British people deserve to have their say on our country’s future in Europe.
Last year in Government we published a draft bill to legislate for a referendum on our relationship with the EU before the end of 2017. The Bill passed through the House of Commons despite receiving no support from any of the other main political parties and last week was debated in the House of Lords. The Bill had one aim – to let the people of Britain decide.
Regrettably the Labour party in the House of Lords did not agree that the British people can be trusted to have their say on this important issue and voted to block the bill.
This was very disappointing news for the country and for the British people. Despite this setback the Prime Minister has declared his commitment to turning our referendum pledge into law and giving you the say you deserve and rightly demand.
The Prime Minister has stated that he will try to re-introduce the same bill in the next session of Parliament and, if necessary, rely on the provisions in the Parliament Act to stop Labour and Liberal Democrat peers killing the Bill once again.
The Conservative Party remains absolutely committed to a referendum and are the only the party that wants to - and can - give the British people their say. This is something close to my own heart as the first time I voted was in 1973 in the referendum on our relationship with Europe. However, it is clear that what was envisaged all those years ago is not what we have today and although we have benefitted over the years due to our position in Europe it is now time to let us all have a decision on our future direction.
We are fast approaching a General Election and lines in the sand are clearly being drawn between the main parties. If people want to have their say on our future in Europe, if they believe that the welfare state should be a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens and not a gateway to a life out of work and on benefits, and if they believe in continuing with the good work already done since 2010 in getting our economy back on track and making our country great once again then it is clear which party shares their hopes and aspirations.