Tory MP will push for vote on Europe

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Bob Neill has confirmed he will make another bid to enshrine the Tory pledge of an in-out EU referendum in law after coming third in the annual private member’s bill ballot.

The former minister was the highest-placed Conservative MP 
drawn at random yesterday, with Liberal Democrats Andrew George and Michael Moore securing first and second respectively.

Mr Neill, a strong supporter of the EU Referendum Bill unsuccessfully proposed by colleague James Wharton in the last parliamentary session, said: “Britain needs a new deal with Europe and the Conservatives have a plan for change in Europe – renegotiate, reform and put the deal to the British people in an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.

“Parliament now has the chance to pass my backbench bill and guarantee that the British people have the final say.”

The Prime Minister has said he is ready to invoke the Parliament Act to force through referendum legislation, after Mr Wharton’s bill collapsed in January in the face of Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition in the Lords.

The Tories have been forced to fall back on private members’ legislation as their Lib Dems have refused to sanction a Government bill, which would have much greater prospects of success.