British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a potential challenge to his authority – as scores of MPs from within his own Conservative party have vowed to attack him in parliament over his stance on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
A Conservative amendment will be voted upon by MPs on the evening of May 15, while Cameron is in the United States. It expresses “regret” that an EU referendum bill was not included within the list of planned legislation in the Queen’s Speech during the state opening of parliament on May 8.
The prime minister had aimed to dampen squabbling amongst his party in January when he announced plans to renegotiate the UK’s EU role – and then hold a referendum on membership before the end of 2017, provided he wins the 2015 general election.
Since then, Conservative eurosceptics have been pushing for a law before 2015 that guarantees the vote will take place. Cameron offered on May 14 to draft legislation to make his pledge legally binding – but critics said this would not satisfy them because the Conservatives’ coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, would block it.
The unprecedented success of the Independence Party (UKIP), which advocates Britain’s exit from the EU, in local elections on May 2 has intensified pressure on Cameron to take a stronger position on Europe.
A YouGov poll in April put support for UK withdrawal from the EU at 43 percent, with 35 percent wanting to stay in the union.