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EU 'in-out' vote promise is welcomed by MPs
David Cameron’s high-risk promise to give the British people a chance to quit the European Union has provoked a mixed reaction among MPs in the Bradford district.
Local Conservative MPs, Kris Hopkins and Philip Davies, have warmly backed the Prime Minister’s pledge – but for different reasons.
Mr Davies, the Shipley MP, said he was “absolutely elated” by the pledge of an ‘in-out’ referendum in 2017 – vowing to vote for Britain to leave the EU.
He explained: “Whatever the Prime Minister comes back with in the negotiations is unlikely to sway me from voting ‘out’ – and I will be surprised if there are not 100 Tory MPs who do that.
“Our future prosperity depends on trade with the rest of the world. Europe has a declining share of the world economy, compared with the far East, India, Brazil and even Africa.”
But Kris Hopkins, the Keighley MP, said he was confident Mr Cameron would succeed in repatriating powers from Brussels, which would allow him to vote ‘in’.
He said: “My instinct is that we should be in the EU, because it is a key trading block on the near-Continent and we need to have the best possible relations.”
But Mr Hopkins welcomed the chance to have a proper debate about an issue where public knowledge was often “quite shallow”.
David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, said it would be foolish to withdraw from one of the most powerful economic blocks in the world.
“I am in no doubt that there are parts of the European agreement that can be challenged and modified, but it would be foolish to withdraw,” he added.
“It is not in the best interest of the country to leave.”
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bradford West, said the UK should be in Europe, but not in the European Union.
“We love people in Europe,” he said. “But we demand a root-and-branch change in the way the Union is run, the Central Bank, the European Commission and Parliament. It is all dysfunctional and we support a referendum.”
Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe said the UK needed to be strong in Europe but a referendum was needed.
“Up to 70 per cent of our trade is with Europe and it is impossible to pull out because of damage to jobs and business,” he said.
“But we do need a referendum.”
The MPs spoke after the prime minister took the political gamble of his life by pledging the first referendum on EU membership since 1975 – if he wins the 2015 general election.