Westminster has felt pretty dull recently, what with very little legislation and that. But now that, thanks to the bravery of Tory MP Bob Neill, could change. #LetBritainDecide fever could be back after Neill was the top Tory (not the top MP) in the Private Member’s Bill ballot. And funnily enough, Neill chose to take up the baton from James Wharton and introduce an EU referendum bill, which could lead to the Prime Minister invoking the Parliament Act to get it into law – if it passes the Commons in the same way as the previous bill.
This appears to be useful for the Conservatives on many levels. If Labour and the Lib Dems cause trouble in the Commons, they can argue that these two parties don’t want to give people a choice: they #won’tletbritaindecide. If it gets blocked by the Lords, the spectacle of the Parliament Act forcing it through will show voters that the Conservatives really are serious about their referendum pledge.
But it’s worth remembering that Labour thinks it can win next year (or at least secure the position of largest party, if you’re one of the party’s pessimists) without a referendum pledge. So voting against it or simply causing problems in the Commons might not be as terrifying as it seems. It will certainly be a bit easier for Douglas Alexander to respond in the Bill debate than it was last time round…
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