UK parliament opposes rules of EU referendum bill

British lawmakers vote against rules stipulated in EU referendum bill despite bill being approved by upper house

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

British PM David Cameron

The UK parliament has objected to a number of rules for a proposed referendum on the country’s status on the country’s membership to the European Union in a vote that was held early on Monday.

Failure to gain approval from the parliament on the rules outlined in the proposal has proven to be a major blow for Prime Minister David Cameron, who pledged to hold a referendum on EU membership by the end of the year 2017 as part of his campaign before his re-election in May.

British lawmakers, including 37 lawmakers from Cameron’s eurosceptic Conservative Party, voted 312 votes to 285 against the proposal.

The parliament’s upper house, however, approved the referendum in a vote held early Tuesday morning in the House of Commons, meaning the bill will now be passed onto the House of Lords, but Monday’s vote means the government will have no choice but to accept changes to the rules of the referendum.

Last week, Cameron agreed to change the wording of the question that will asked in the referendum in addition to making concessions on the government’s ability to publish material that could influence the result of the referendum within the 28-day run-up to the polls.  

The EU Referendum Bill was originally approved by lawmakers with 544 votes in favour to 53 opposed in June. Both the ruling Conservatives and their main opposition Labour voted in favour of the bill, while the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) rejected it.

During the lead-up to the British general elections in May, Labour had said it would oppose the referendum, but following their election defeat, the party said it would support the referendum but still encourage voters to opt for EU membership.

After Cameron was re-elected in May, he toured a number of European capitals to garner support for reforms in the EU, vowing to secure a "better deal" for the UK in Europe ahead of the referendum, especially in regards to the issue of migration.

The latest poll published by local pollster Survation on Saturday suggests the majority of British citizens are in favour of a UK exit from the EU.

TRTWorld and agencies