MPs from all parties who want a referendum are meeting this week to discuss how to get a pledge into the Labour and Lib Dem manifestos, I hear.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for an EU referendum will meet tomorrow, partly to look ahead to James Wharton’s Private Member’s Bill on Friday, but also to draw up a strategy for a referendum commitment from the other two parties. Speaking alongside Wharton at the meeting will be Labour’s Kate Hoey and Lib Dem John Hemming, who backed John Baron’s Queen’s Speech amendment. Labour donor John Mills, who the Times reports this morning as warning that his party could lose the next election because it hasn’t offered voters a choice, will also speak.
They will want to move their parties beyond the current ‘all we are interested in is jobs and growth, not a Tory stunt’ line, which has become easier to peddle given the ferocious (and impressive) CCHQ work on the Wharton Bill. The challenge is whether these MPs, who are well-known referendum campaigners, can show their parties that this is not the niche interest of some backbenchers, but an issue on which the party leaderships are increasingly fall out of touch with voters.