As previewed on Coffee House last week, John Baron today launched his all-party group calling for an EU referendum. He has so far managed to bring more than 50 MPs on board, along with a good number of Labour MPs. DUP MPs will also attend. The first meeting will be on 16 October.
Yesterday José Manuel Barroso gave momentum to the group’s calls for a vote on Britain’s membership of the EU by pushing for greater political union. He said:
A deep and genuine economic and monetary union, a political union, with a coherent foreign and defence policy, means ultimately that the present European Union must evolve. Let’s not be afraid of the words: we will need to move towards a federation of nation states. This is what we need. This is our political horizon. This is what must guide our work in the years to come.
Today, I call for a federation of nation states. Not a superstate. A democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country and each citizen are better equipped to control their own destiny. This is about the Union with the Member States, not against the Member States. In the age of globalisation pooled sovereignty means more power, not less.
Baron thinks that Barroso’s words suggest a clear case for a referendum sooner rather than later. But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman dodged questions this afternoon on whether these proposed changes could lead to a vote, saying that Barroso had been talking about measures ‘to restore stability to the eurozone’, adding that many of these measures were things that ‘we would encourage’. The first meeting of the APPG may well take a different view.
P.S. For those wondering what the Prime Minister’s response was to the question Baron tabled last week about his failure to reply to the letter on a referendum signed by more than 100 Tory backbenchers, here’s his reply:
‘I met my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) on 9 July in order to discuss his letter and the issues it raised. A formal reply to the letter will be sent shortly.’