All DUP’s MPs wheel in behind vote for European referendum
All eight DUP MPs are set to vote for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
They are among 78 MPs who had last night signed the referendum motion, which will be debated in the House of Commons on Monday following a public campaign.
Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said: “This is an important issue that needs to be debated and it is a shame that it is has come about as a result of a backbench committee decision when it should have been a priority for the Government.
“Sadly they have been keen to avoid the subject and that is wrong. I hope that MPs will vote to allow this referendum to go ahead as it is time for common sense to prevail.” The East Antrim MP (pictured below) argued regulations and directives from Brussels have harmed the UK and made it less competitive, with sovereignty eroded and a price tag for membership of some £6.7bn a year.
Mr Wilson added: “The Government have already allowed a referendum that nobody wanted on a voting system that nobody wanted.
“Another fudge or lame excuse for not allowing a referendum to go ahead will further damage the reputation of a parliament in the eyes of a public that already feels it is out of touch with their views.” The three main Westminster parties — Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats — have told their members to vote against the motion, as well as rival amendments that have been put forward.
But they are battling a growing rebellion from MPs, which yesterday engulfed Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson after his Parliamentary aide signalled he would defy the Government and vote for a referendum, which is likely to mean resigning his role.
Conservative Stewart Jackson said Europe was a “totemic issue” for the party. Mr Paterson said that he would be speaking to Mr Jackson before Monday's vote.
He said: “I hadn't heard from him before that interview, and I haven't heard from him since.
“I have been busy on other matters.
“I will be talking to him at some stage before the vote.”
He added: “I think all of us are concerned by the impact European regulation is having on business. Everyone is extremely concerned about the prospects for the euro and we have to be very, very careful in ensuring that we see this through.
“I think what George Osborne is doing is the right thing — he will be in Europe over the weekend — but we have to see some decisions to see the euro steadied.”
Story so far
So far 78 MPs have signed the referendum motion, including 61 Conservatives, nine from Labour and all eight DUP members. Westminster's SDLP contingent will vote against the referendum. Other MPs listed on Parliamentary papers as supporting the referendum include Northern Ireland-born Labour MP Kate Hoey, and Laurence Robertson, the chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee.