UK EU referendum bill collapses amid coalition wrangling

The Union flag above the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 26, 2014 (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

London (AFP) - A bid to set in law a proposed British referendum on EU membership failed on Tuesday, with both parties in the coalition government blaming the other.

Put forward by Bob Neill, a backbencher in the Conservative party of Prime Minister David Cameron, the bill would have guaranteed that the next government would have to hold a referendum in 2017.

The bill passed its first hurdle earlier this month, but the parties' failure to agree means it will not go forward to a vote in the House of Commons.

Under pressure from the rising popularity of the anti-EU UK Independence Party ahead of a May 2015 election, Cameron has vowed to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership of the bloc and then hold a referendum.

The Liberal Democrats said that their coalition partners secretly opposed the bill as it would have taken the force out of an election promise that voting Conservative is the only way to guarantee an EU referendum.

Deputy leader Malcolm Bruce said that the Conservative Party had deliberately sabotaged the bill by "adding ridiculous conditions".

"The truth is they have folded like a cheap deck chair and are trying to make us take the blame," Bruce said.

In turn, the Conservative lawmaker who put forward the bill said the Liberal Democrats had deliberately "killed off" the law.

"They didn't have the guts to vote against an EU referendum in the House of Commons," Neill said.

"Instead they have used Westminster tricks to try to deny the British people a say on their membership of the EU."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting