Thame’s MP has backed the Prime Minister’s ‘compelling’ speech on Britain’s relationship with Europe - and says he will be campaigning for us to stay in the EU.
In a long-awaited speech on Wednesday, David Cameron said a referendum would be held on Britain’s EU membership in 2017, if he is still Prime Minister then.
John Howell MP said that, like Mr Cameron, he will be urging people to vote to stay in the EU when the time comes.
Mr Howell said: “I don’t believe that Britain’s future is to be like Norway or Switzerland. We need to be round the table making the decisions.”
The leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, accused the Prime Minister of ‘kicking the can down the road’ and said the referendum should be held right away, while Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said years of uncertainty would be caused by a future referendum, hitting jobs and growth.
However, Mr Howell agrees with Mr Cameron that Britain first needs to renegotiate its relationship with the EU.
He said: “There is no point of having a referendum until we have renegotiated the terms of our relationship with Europe.
“People’s patience with the undemocratic way that the EU behaves has worn thin and that needs to change.
“The speech set out a clear vision for the future.
“I don’t think it is at all true that holding it in 2017 will create uncertainty. I think that the business community will welcome the concise vision that the Prime Minister has set out.”
He also dismissed claims UKIP’s rise forced Mr Cameron to make the speech.
Mr Howell said: “I don’t think this has got anything to do with UKIP. This is a policy area that the Prime Minister was getting ready to make a speech on. It’s a sensible approach to an important topic that has bedevilled British politics for a long time.”
Mr Howell said EU membership had not been mentioned to him by many constituents, but stressed they would have an important choice to make.