WYRE Forest’s MP says Prime Minister David Cameron’s call for a referendum has started a “real, complex debate” on the issues of Europe.
Mark Garnier backed Mr Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and then ask the country to vote on it in 2017 – if the Conservatives win the next general election outright.
Responding to Labour fears it would throw Britain into four years of uncertainty, Mr Garnier said the country’s membership had already been uncertain and the announcement cleared the way forward.
“This will give us the chance to get the facts out in front of everyone, rather than just scaremongering from both sides,” he said.
“There is a real, complex debate to be had that we cannot have in a few weeks.”
Mr Garnier – a member of the “fresh start project”, which looks at ways the UK’s EU relationship could be redefined – said he did not yet know how he would vote in the referendum.
“In Wyre Forest many people have jobs because we are EU members – anyone who works here is better off in the single market,” he said.
“We do worry, however, about things like the European arrest warrant.”
Mr Cameron’s announcement was also praised by West Midlands Conservative MEP, Anthea McIntyre.
Labour MEP Michael Cashman, who opposes an in/out referendum, said: “We do not govern by referendum. We elect MPs to scrutinise the treaties.
“Also, if we have a referendum, will the Euro-phobes go away? No. It will be ‘not enough voted’, ‘we didn’t have a long enough debate’.”
We Want a Referendum Party MEP Nikki Sinclaire said 2017 was too far away.
“I fear [Mr Cameron’s] speech was all smoke and mirrors,” she said. “What if he does not get his renegotiations? Why do we need to wait this long?
“We want a Royal Commission to get the figures, then we can debate them and have a referendum in summer, 2014.”