Tory game-playing over the EU Referendum

As MPs debated the Queen’s Speech this week, much of the media coverage has focused on the noise around the absence of an EU Referendum Bill.

My position on the EU referendum, and that of the Green Party, is in favour - not because I’m anti-EU, but because I’m pro-democracy and think it's right that people are given a say on this important issue. 

I also think any such referendum should take place as soon as possible, in order to avoid the five years of economic uncertainty - with all the damage that could cause to UK industry and inward investment - which will result from the 2017 referendum the Government is offering.

I am pro-Europe on the grounds that EU membership has delivered many benefits since the Second World War, including legislation that promotes environmental protection and human health. 

Friends of the Earth sets out an excellent case for the environmental benefits here.  

As well as voting for a  referendum in the past, I have argued strongly for radical reform of the EU’s decision making structures and priorities. 

EU institutions need to be far less remote and more accountable, and policies like the Common Agricultural Policy still require significant change.

However, in this evening's vote on the Tory backbench amendment to the Queen's Speech, which lamented the absence of an EU Referendum Bill, I chose to abstain.

The amendment is essentially Tory game-playing - and since the Prime Minister has already committed to holding a referendum in the next Parliament should he win the next election, it's also unnecessary.

Unfortunately, this is a debate now taking place in the context of a reactionary and xenophobic lurch to the right, as the Tories try their hardest to out-UKIP UKIP...  

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