Labour MP to rebel in vote over Europe referendum

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The row over a referendum on Europe is set to cause ructions within Labour ranks as well as the Conservatives, a senior MP warned.

Graham Stringer accused leader Ed Miliband of making a “mistake” by subjecting the party to a three-line whip on next Monday’s vote over whether to hold an in/out national poll on the EU.

The former Labour whip said he would defy the order for MPs to oppose the proposals, arguing it was time people were “given a choice”.

“I don’t agree with him (Mr Miliband),” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“He’s got his job to do. I think it is a mistake of all three party leaders when the public are clearly aching for a say on Europe to say ‘no, you can’t have it.’”

“I shall vote for the motion. I think there should be a referendum. I think when people have been asked for a petition and there is a very moderate motion down there can’t be any opposition in principle to having a referendum.

“Now is the time to give people a choice about whether they want to stay in the European Union.”

Mr Stringer said now was “exactly the right time” to hold a national poll despite Mr Miliband’s claims it was a “distraction” at a time when the UK should be focused on the economy.

It comes after Labour claimed on Thursday that David Cameron was facing a “mutiny” over the vote with a number of Ministerial aides poised to quit.

At least 60 Conservative MPs have backed a motion calling for a national poll and senior party figures yesterday pledged to defy the leadership if it ordered them to oppose the plans.

Conservative Stewart Jackson said he was one of those who would quit his junior position in Government.

The parliamentary private secretary to Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson told the BBC that Europe was a “totemic issue” for the party.

“My constituents are saying ‘your three-line whip is from us and we think the people’s voice should be heard’,” he said.

“I will vote in favour of the motion and, in so doing, I will very likely relinquish my position as parliamentary private secretary.”

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