British deputies votes against holding of referendum on EU membership

British deputies votes against holding of referendum on EU membership
# 25 October 2011 09:06 (UTC +04:00)
Baku - APA-Economics. British Prime Minister David Cameron fought off a challenge Monday from eurosceptics within his own Conservative Party who demanded a referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.

In a vote late Monday, the British Parliament backed Cameron’s rejection of a call for a referendum on EU membership with 483 votes against 111.

But Cameron’s authority was dealt a blow when a sizeable number of deputies from his own Conservative Party defied his instruction to vote against a motion calling for a referendum, proposed by eurosceptic members of the party.

An initial breakdown showed that around 80 members of Cameron’s Conservative Party voted to support the motion, along with a hard core of eurosceptic members from the opposition Labour Party.

Commentators said the rebellion was the biggest against a prime minister since before 1993, when 41 Conservatives voted against their own then-premier John Major over the Maastricht Treaty.

Although the attempt to push through a referendum was defeated - and therefore remains without immediate consequences - the size of the rebellion underlined the problems Cameron faces over Europe within his own party, analysts said.

Parliament had clearly voted against the motion, a spokesman for Cameron said: ’We understand that many people who voted for it felt very strongly - and we respect that.’

The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, said the ’massive rebellion’ was a ’humiliation’ for Cameron.

In Brussels, European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde said that while the vote was ’a matter entirely for the UK,’ the Commission had ’always welcomed a strong role for the UK at the heart of the European Union.’

In an earlier statement to parliament, Cameron said that while he shared the ’frustrations’ of fellow Conservatives over the growing costs and power of the EU, he believed that now was the ’wrong time’ for a referendum amid the financial crisis in the eurozone.

’When your neighbour’s house is on fire, your first impulse should be to help them to put out the flames - not least to stop the flames reaching your own house,’ Cameron said. ’This is not the time to argue about walking away, not just for their sakes, but for ours.’