October 26, 2011 3.35 pm This story is over 120 months old

McCartney: Why I rebelled on the EU referendum vote

EU membership: Karl McCartney explains why he rebelled against his party leader over the EU referendum.

This week, the government held a vote among MPs, deciding if it should hold a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Union (EU).

While Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron demanded his party to vote against the referendum, 81 Tory backbenchers defied him and the three-line whip, voting for. However, with Lib Dem and Labour votes included, the motion was defeated 483 votes to 111.

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney was one of the party members who defied Cameron’s wishes, alongside two other local MPs: Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) and Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle).

Karl McCartney explains to The Lincolnite why he voted for the EU referendum.

Britain’s relationship with Europe is a very important issue – to me, and to the people in our city and our nation. That is why over the last week, my parliamentary postbag has been brimming with mail from constituents and others demanding that the British government give the British people a say over its future relationship with Europe.

With all the negative press the EU receives in our country, it is easy to forget the benefits to Britain of our membership. For example, EU membership gives UK business full access to the world’s most important trading zone of 500 million consumers, without the barriers of customs or tariffs.

It is said that up to 10% of UK jobs rely on exports to EU member states and UK households are estimated to benefit from EU trade by as much as £3,300 per year. There are also benefits for UK individuals, such as the right to study and work within the EU.

Giving people a voice

However, irrespective of any cost-benefit analysis, I believe it is only fair that, after over three-and-a-half decades of closer union with Europe, the British government finally gives the British people a say on our future relationship with Europe.

I, therefore, recently signed a motion calling upon the government to introduce a bill in Parliament to allow for a referendum. I believe that we have a duty to ensure that the British public are given a choice to decide whether to keep the status quo, renegotiate the terms of our membership to focus primarily on trade and cooperation, or alternatively, leave the EU altogether.

Giving the British people a vote on this issue of huge constitutional importance is fair, right, and in today’s climate of political disillusionment, absolutely necessary. That is why I also voted the right way on Monday evening.

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Karl McCartney was the Conservative Lincoln MP between 2010 and 2017. He is now the Conservative candidate for the city for the next general elections.